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Two of Hillsborough Administrator's Pat Bean's top deputies offer to give back controversial pay raises as the county faces layoffs in a budget crunch

TAMPA — Two of Hillsborough Administrator Pat Bean's top deputies are asking her to rescind raises they received last year that have landed their boss on the hot seat.

Both Carl Harness and Manus O'Donnell are asking that Bean treat them like other county employees, who are facing layoffs and pay cuts.

"I think that the layoffs that could occur in the future have been hurtful and morale is suffering as a result," O'Donnell said Monday, explaining his rationale. "I wanted to do anything I could to relieve any of that."

Harness could not be reached, but said in a memo to Bean a week ago that he thinks his request is "the right thing to do." He offers to repay the county for the salary increase he received in November.

Bean did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Harness and O'Donnell are two of Bean's six top deputies, who each received raises last year ranging from 7 to 17 percent. The two offering to forgo the raises received the lowest percentage.

Harness and O'Donnell are offering to forgo the 5 percent of their November raises that were tied to merit. They would still receive the 2.25 percent cost-of-living increase all other county employees received last year.

For Harness, that would mean he would relinquish about $7,550 and his salary would fall to about $153,500. O'Donnell's merit raise equated to about a $7,200 boost to his prior salary of $144,914.

Harness oversees departments dealing with public safety. O'Donnell is in charge of many of the county's social service programs.

Unlike the other four administrators, their raises did not come with promotions, which Bean said were the main basis of the pay increases. Although both have taken on added duties in recent years, they had already been assistant administrators.

The other four, who got raises of at least 12 percent, were elevated to new jobs after Bean reorganized her executive staff.

Stories in the St. Petersburg Times about the raises for Bean's deputies, each already making well over $100,000, have drawn widespread backlash from the community and rank-and-file county employees. Bean is proposing to eliminate hundreds of jobs next year in order to bridge an expected $144 million decline in tax revenues. Those that remain face pay cuts, which her executive team also will face.

Commissioner Kevin Beckner last week called for an inquiry into several years of past pay raises and promotions for county executives.

O'Donnell sent a separate memo to department directors explaining his rationale for forgoing the raise. He noted that the other executives were promoted and got raises, just as all county employees do when they take on bigger assignments.

"I would not want any pay increase to hold me out differently than others," he wrote. "Therefore, I gave it back."

Bill Varian can be reached at (813) 226-3387 or varian@sptimes.com.

Two of Hillsborough Administrator's Pat Bean's top deputies offer to give back controversial pay raises as the county faces layoffs in a budget crunch 06/22/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 22, 2009 11:43pm]
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