Sunday, September 23, 2018
News Roundup

Pinellas commissioners agree to terms with new administrator, but not all that he asked

CLEARWATER — The Pinellas County Commission got the new administrator it wanted, but he didn’t get the $302,100 salary package he sought.

Instead, commissioners voted 4-2 to offer Barry Burton, an administrator for a county north of Chicago, $289,700 in total compensation. That includes base pay of $267,500 and another $22,200 for deferred compensation and a car allowance.

The tense 90-minute meeting to consider Burton’s contract turned into real-time negotiations once commission Chair Ken Welch asked permission to engage the person picked as the No. 2 finalist. He realized the board would not support Burton’s higher salary request.

That’s when Burton texted Welch, saying he would back off from some of what he sought, such as $61,800 for moving expenses. He had also wanted a cash payout for any of the money he didn’t use. The board rejected the request.

The board criticized Burton for his demands, which he said he based on pay that administrators earn in other states.

"We have employees who don’t make that in a year," Commissioner Pat Gerard said of Burton’s moving expense request. "That is kind of insulting to the people who would work for him."

Added Commissioner Dave Eggers: "How can he think about asking for a cash payment if he didn’t use the money?"

The board then took a 10-minute recess so Welch could negotiate on the phone.

After the break, Welch told the board that Burton would accept the original offer, with lower pay and up to $46,800 in moving expenses. Welch said Burton apologized for how negotiations had turned out.

The Tampa Bay Times first reported Burton’s salary proposal on Monday. Commissioner Karen Seel said residents "lit up" her phone and e-mail, adding: "There were some really upset folks."

Burton shouldn’t expect taxpayers to foot all his expenses if he has to pay a mortgage in Illinois and rent in Pinellas, she said.

"That’s his choice," Seel said. "That’s not my problem."

Burton then texted Welch to say he was showing his home to potential buyers later Wednesday.

Commissioner Charlie Justice said he struggled with the high salary and would never support paying Burton $300,000.

"It’s all about him, him, him," said Commissioner Janet Long.

Once the board and Burton agreed on less pay, Gerard encouraged the board to vote and give him a break since he lowered his demands.

He had sought to be hired into the job as though he has worked for the county for 20 years, which would have allowed him to accrue 256 hours of leave each year. He agreed to cut the request in half, starting the job as though he were a 10-year employee.

The commission then placed a provision in his contract to prevent him from collecting a payout for the 208 hours in leave time he would get if he is fired or quits in the first year.

Burton’s request of $302,100 was $50,000 more than what retiring administrator Mark Woodard earns. Woodward declined an employment contract, deferred compensation and a car allowance because other employees could not earn those perks.

After the meeting, Burton said he is committed to serving Pinellas County and thanked commissioners for placing confidence in him.

"I heard the concerns raised by the commissioners and the public," Burton told the Times in a text message. "In contract negotiations sometimes you go back and forth, and compromise. I am very glad we were able to reach an agreement. I will spend every day working to earn the trust and respect of the residents and the Commission."

He is expected to start Nov. 1.

Contact Mark Puente at [email protected] or (727) 892-2996. Follow @MarkPuente.

Comments
Rays journal: Blue Jays spoil wild-card bid

Rays journal: Blue Jays spoil wild-card bid

TORONTO — There was no drama, no emotional rescues after Saturday's game.After feeling, appropriately, crushed after they gave away Thursday's game, blowing a six-run lead in the ninth, then bouncing back Friday, the Rays on Saturday faced a st...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Jordan Cronkrite’s big run helps USF stay perfect with win over ECU

Jordan Cronkrite’s big run helps USF stay perfect with win over ECU

TAMPA — Whenever USF handed the ball to running back Jordan Cronkrite on Saturday night, a big play seemed close. The Bulls were just one block, one chip, one cut away."We knew it was coming," quarterback Blake Barnett said.Finally, with 1...
Updated: 3 hours ago
USF journal: Standout returner Terrence Horne out with torn ACL

USF journal: Standout returner Terrence Horne out with torn ACL

TAMPA — USF opened its American Athletic Conference schedule Saturday with a 20-13 victory against East Carolina, but it had to do so without the nation's top returner.Freshman receiver and return specialist Terrence Horne tore his ACL in pract...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Joey Knight’s takeaways from Florida-Tennessee

Joey Knight’s takeaways from Florida-Tennessee

For all their defensive opportunism Saturday, make no mistake: The Gators probably remain a year or two away from seriously contending again in the SEC East Division. Still, it beats the Vols, who appear a light-year or two away.Jeremy Pruitt confirm...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Matt Baker’s takeaways from USF-East Carolina

Matt Baker’s takeaways from USF-East Carolina

I figured East Carolina would either look amazing or awful to start, considering it spent the past week and a half in Orlando because of Hurricane Florence. Turns out the Pirates channeled their emotions well, scoring on their first possession and fo...
Updated: 3 hours ago
UF journal: A resounding return for LB David Reese

UF journal: A resounding return for LB David Reese

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Gator fans have spent the better part of September wondering if junior LB David Reese ever would get on the field.They spent the better part of Saturday hoping he'd never come off.Reese, whose 2018 debut was postponed by a hi...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Florida extends Tennessee’s recent SEC futility

Florida extends Tennessee’s recent SEC futility

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On an evening in which Tennessee honored its 1998 national championship squad, the current crop of Vols managed to offset the whole nostalgic shindig.By making the 2018 Gators resemble a national championship-caliber club.A o...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Lightning forward prospect Boris Katchouk putting together strong preseason

Lightning forward prospect Boris Katchouk putting together strong preseason

TAMPA — As the end of training camp looms, there's no clear-cut answer as to how the Lightning will fill the one, maybe two open forward spots in its lineup.It could go with Adam Erne. Spending much of his time in AHL Syracuse the past three se...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning journal: ‘No-risk’ forward pickup; another preseason win; Fan Fest on Sunday

Lightning journal: ‘No-risk’ forward pickup; another preseason win; Fan Fest on Sunday

TAMPA — It didn't take long for Lightning GM Julien BriseBois to decide he wanted to put a waiver claim in Friday.Not when he saw that F Danick Martel was available."He's a player we have had on our radar for a while, going back to actually his...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Deondre Francois throws 2 TDs as Seminoles hold off NIU 37-19

Deondre Francois throws 2 TDs as Seminoles hold off NIU 37-19

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State has been seeking improvement on offense after managing just 10 combined points in its two FBS losses. The Seminoles found some reasons to be optimistic for a turnaround on Saturday. Deondre Francois threw for a season-high...
Updated: 5 hours ago