Heidi Shipley wants any major salary decisions in the future to come to the council for review.
City Council member Heidi Shipley expressed her concern during a March 13 council workshop with City Manager Jim Landon’s decision to give city staff member Beau Falgout a $15,216 raise and promotion to the position of assistant city manager without first informing the council.
Landon had announced the title change — but didn’t mention the accompanying raise — at a City Council meeting March 6. Mayor Milissa Holland and council members found out about the raise after FlaglerLive discovered the raise and began reporting on it.
“I would like to make some kind of motion that nobody gets a raise without it coming through us, other than their 3%, their usual raises,” Shipley said toward the end of the March 13 workshop. “Only because at a time where Mr. Landon is on his way out, making a raise for somebody — not that he would, but he could give everybody a raise. So, just so that we don’t seem like we’re taking taxpayer dollars for granted, just to put some kind of hold on that so that we know we’re aware of it and that we’re handling it.
“Well, this is a workshop, so it’s good discussion,” Holland said. “I think at our City Council meeting you can certainly put that on the agenda.”
“Should we discuss it now?” Shipley said.
Landon jumped in.
“I would love to discuss it now, because that’s extremely offensive,” he said. “To suggest that I would, on my way out, give everybody a huge raise —
“It’s still something that has to be addressed,” Shipley said. “I mean, I can’t worry about offending people when it comes to what I’m supposed to do for the residents of Palm Coast.”
Landon turned to the mayor.
“Chairman, may I continue to speak? We look at salaries all the time to make sure that we are competitive.”
He said the city’s pay plan has standard annual adjustments, plus a merit system, and that the city also looks at pay for positions that regularly have people leaving for higher pay elsewhere. The city, he said, does “make adjustments based on salary surveys, and based on our pay plan. That’s my job.”
“This is mine,” Shipley interjected.
“We take it very serious,” Landon continued. “So for you all to then say that you want to just put a hold on all wages, evaluations, to stop pay raises, period —”
“No I’m not saying for us to stop pay raises, just for it to come through us, too,” Shipley said.
“Mayor, may I speak without being interrupted?” Landon said.
“You’ve interrupted me plenty of time in the last three years,” Shipley said. “I’m just saying that what I’m looking for isn’t for all raises to be stopped. Obviously I wouldn’t say that. But, it should be coming through us if it’s something like $1,000 a month.”
Councilman Steve Nobile suggested a compromise, and said he could see Shipley’s point. He suggested the council be given a brief report on raises, with no names, every week, “so that if something flagrant pops up,” the council is made aware of it.
Landon said he would be “happy to provide” the council with such a report.
Shipley also liked the idea.
“Just something, so that we know what’s going on, so that when something like that happens, we’re not caught by surprise,” she said.
Councilman Nick Klufas said he’d been caught by surprise by news of the raise, too. “It just felt misrepresented in the way that it came across at the (March 6) council meeting,” he said.
“Absolutely,” Shipley said.
After the workshop, Holland told a reporter that Landon was within his authority to authorize the raise: He doesn't have to come to the council for expenditures under $25,000, she said.
"But it would have been nice to have it on the record," she added. Of Falgout, she said, "Beau has been with the city for awhile, and he has grown with his role and advanced in his role. I've watched that advancement. We are not talking about someone who's not qualified for this position."