Evaluations Center Stage for Non-Bargained Pay Increases
MARGATE - Based on a Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 1.9% City of Margate employees who do not belong to any of the city's four labor unions were approved a 2% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Fiscal Year 2017-18. The group includes Charter Officers, middle and senior management, a handful of office positions and other non-union members. The impact to taxpayers is $150K-$170K and will be retroactive to October 1, 2017. _________________ After adding the word “Accountability” to the city’s Strategic Plan earlier in the year, some elected officials requested to see the evaluations of department heads prior to approving COLAs for managers. Also, since contracts for Charter Officers (city manager, city clerk, city attorney) contained clauses linked to non-bargained pay increases, elected officials preferred to conduct evaluations of officers prior to issuing COLAs. “I would like to see evaluations on all the senior staff before I give raises. I also don’t think people who got promotions and raises should get more raises,” Vice Mayor, Anthony Caggiano said. Caggiano didn’t approve of pay increases for people who recently were promoted to new positions with higher salaries. “People who got new positions - some not so long ago with increases in pay - I don’t think we should automatically give them raises,” he said. “If we’re going to do accountability then we need to see evaluations. I would like to see them before I give raises carte blance to all.” Caggiano objected to recently promoted senior managers receiving another 2% pay increase prior to completing any type of probationary period or evaluation process. He was adamant too about addressing pay increases for non-union members only after all union contracts were settled. Outstanding agreements include the Federated Public Employees (FPE) union and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) – contracts ideally settled before the City’s yearly budget is approved. Mitigating factors for falling behind included numerous upper management changes to the city manager and city attorney’s office; a restructuring of the city’s department of economic development, the termination of the firm that ran the city's Community Redevelopment Agency and changes to management in the building department – all of which resulted in a reorganization of priorities and management styles citywide. Officially onboarded as City Manager two months ago, May said he could make evaluations happen but would need a month or so. With regard to outstanding union contracts; the FPE and IAFF should come before commissioners for ratification at a January city meeting unless impasse occurs. Contracts with the city's two other labor unions; the Fraternal Order of Police and the Police Benevolent Association, have already been approved. Mayor Arlene Schwartz, who along with Commissioner Joanne Simone emphasized accountability in a 3-2 vote in October when promoting May to City Manager from Director of Public Works, said she too would like to implement a formal evaluation process. Evaluations of charter officers were conducted last year pursuant to a MargateNews.net reportthat revealed a longstanding absence of performance reviews for top managers. Since, no policy was set in place to annually require it. As a result, Charter Officer contracts renewed themselves automatically in FY2018. “Have we renewed your contract?” Schwartz asked May. “I’m lost,” said Simone. After six years on the dais approving raises for unions and non-union city workers, Commissioner Lesa Peerman asked the city attorney if it were legal for commissioners to request evaluations prior to green-lighting pay increases. “You have the right to condition those raises on anything you like as a commission,” said attorney James Cherof of the city’s interim legal firm. Commissioner, Tommy Ruzzano favored seeing evaluations for department heads and conducting reviews of executive staff prior to approving COLAs, but did not want other non-bargained personnel impacted negatively by the decision. Subsequently, commissioners agreed 4-1 to review evaluations prior to issuing COLAs to senior management (Simone in dissent). All were unanimous in approving 2% COLAs for non-bargained, non-management positions effective immediately. May summed up the city’s labor quandary when explaining that pay for city employees rests with a sliding scale of pay grades and is not performance-based. What's good for one is good for all in each of the cities 40 or so pay grades. “We not looking at people, we’re looking at positions," announced May. "To separate people from positions is an extremely difficult thing to do." Cagganio said the current system is no way to instill or reward persons who consistently exhibit a quality work ethic and who find themselves working alongside employees who don't. “Where I’m from people get paid for performing, not for just showing up,” the Vice Mayor said.