Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Safety Harbor fire chief to retire again

SAFETY HARBOR — Fire Chief Jay Stout, who retired seven years ago but returned to the job a month later to collect a salary and pension, is retiring again.

This time, he selected a window of time when lucrative pay incentives were being offered to employees who voluntarily left to help prevent layoffs.

Stout, 60, is among 11 city employees who accepted a retirement/separation package. His last day is May 29.

Deputy fire Chief Joe Accetta will take over Stout's job and the deputy position will be left open.

"It's helping out the young firefighters,'' Stout said. "We're trimming the organization and it's a good way to preserve street-level staffing.''

Because Stout has served the city for more than eight years, he will receive six months salary, nearly $50,000 and a year of health insurance coverage for he and his wife costing the city $15,410. Plus, he will get the 8 percent of his gross salary the city contributed per pay period to his 401(a) plan in his second stint with the city, totaling $51,200.

Stout first retired on Nov. 30, 2002, after 29 years on the job. But he returned 33 days later, making the same salary he did before his departure: $76,482 per year.

At the same time, Stout began receiving pension checks from the Florida State Retirement System which, with regular increases, now totals $4,903.11 per month, including a $150 per month health insurance subsidy.

His annual salary rose through the years and is currently $99,798. He still draws the pension checks, which means he brings in $158,634 per year before taxes.

Bill Cropsey, the city's personnel director, said that in 2002, Stout "retired as far as FRS is concerned'' but he "wasn't considered retired from the city.''

He said city officials knew Stout would be back and he "kept his sick and vacation balances.''

"As far as the city is concerned, he is retiring now,'' Cropsey said.

Earlier this month, Stout told the St. Petersburg Times "I do not consider myself'' a double-dipper.

On Wednesday, Stout said Accetta is educated, well qualified and will "preserve the culture of the department.''

Accetta, 47, who will be paid $87,000 annually, has been with the Safety Harbor Fire Department since 1981 and was promoted to training chief in 2004.

Of the other 10 employees who accepted the retirement/separation package, five are from public works, three from leisure services, one from the fire department and one from planning and zoning.

Some have already left, but most will work their last day today, leaving the city with 173 full-time employees.

The program was offered to employees of all ages.

"We are thinking outside the box in an attempt to trim city expenditures and avoid layoffs while continuing to provide quality services at an affordable cost during these tough economic times,'' said Mayor Andy Steingold.

Vacated positions will be frozen indefinitely and will be evaluated for future funding or departmental restructuring.

"The result will be a cost savings of up to $620,000 next year,'' said City Manager Matt Spoor.

Eileen Schulte can be reached at or (727) 445-4153.

Safety Harbor fire chief to retire again 04/30/09 [Last modified: Thursday, April 30, 2009 8:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Hooper: Hillsborough marks 100th anniversary of historic photo collection


    Everyone ends up with a favorite.

    Or two or three or 10.

    Rest assured, no one who adores Tampa Bay, appreciates art or cherishes history can explore the Burgert Brothers Photographic Collection without storing at least one snapshot in the mental scrapbook.

    Part of the Burgert Brothers collection now featured through the Hillsborough Public Library shows a beer garden on Central Avenue in Tampa from July 1942. [Burgert Brothers collection]
  2. Report slams Pinellas construction licensing agency

    Local Government

    LARGO — The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board mismanaged its finances, lacked accountability and violated its own rules, according to a scathing report released Wednesday by the county's inspector general.

    Rodney Fischer, the executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, resigned in January.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  3. Tampa driver dies after swerving off Interstate 4 into canal


    PLANT CITY — A Tampa driver swerved off Interstate 4 Wednesday morning, plunging into a canal in a fatal crash, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report.

  4. Editorial: Scott should keep demanding better for seniors in nursing homes


    The horrific story of elderly Floridians dying from the heat in a Broward County nursing home after surviving Hurricane Irma grows more outrageous. Even as a ninth death has been reported, the nursing home blames the state and has filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Rick Scott's move to prevent it from accepting new …

    Even as a ninth death has been reported, the nursing home blames the state and has filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Rick Scott’s move to prevent it from accepting new patients or Medicaid payments.
  5. DCF announces $133 million in federal aid for low-income families who lost food during Irma


    An additional $133 million is being distributed to Florida low-income families to help replace food destroyed by Hurricane Irma, the Florida Department of Children and Families announced today.

    The United States Department of Agriculture has made $133 million available to Florida low-income families to help them replace food damaged during Hurricane Irma