City heads request staff increases

Fernandina Beach department heads put in requests for additional staff during a workshop held last week by City Manager Dale Martin. Martin asked department heads to submit data on the cost of their requested staff increases, which will be discussed in greater detail during the 2016-17 city budget process. The workshop also raised the question of whether the city should be outsourcing more jobs.

According to figures provided by Martin, the city has 165 full-time employees, down from 210 full-time employees in 2010. The personnel budget is $16 million, 37 percent of the total budget. Annual salaries and wages are $10.4 million, with an additional $2.9 million in employee costs. Pension and retirement costs equal $2.8 million.

There are 17 senior positions, 148 staff positions, 52 part-timers and 75 seasonal full-time and part-time employees. Four retirements are expected in 2016 and 2017.

Commissioner Tim Poynter said he hoped department heads were not just “second guessing” the commission in anticipation of them denying additional staff. He also emphasized the need for outsourcing under certain circumstances.

“Go out for bid and say (you) want a firm number on cutting the grass for a whole year in Central Park. The whole city needs to be doing this a little differently… to get the best bang for the buck,” Poytner said.

City Controller Patti Clifford, who runs the finance department with 11 full-time employees and two part-timers, said she needs another part-timer due to a 9.7 percent increase in the workload.

Jeremiah Glisson, maintenance director in charge of facilities and fleets, asked for a part-time position for the fleet section, responsible for maintenance and repair of approximately 220 vehicles.

Police Chief Jim Hurley said he’s lost 12 positions in the last 10 years, and is down from 35 officers to 30. Hurley currently manages 47 employees, including administrative staff, detectives, officers and reservists. The department also uses 70 volunteers.

“We always did everything through attrition, but you can only do this so long,” Hurley said. He noted that some lengthy illnesses have also caused some difficulties in the department. Hurley requested one full-time police sergeant to handle the downtown area, and a full-time civilian to work with the Parks and Recreation Department to help with parking and traffic issues during special events.

Noting the Fire Department has become an “all-hazards” department over the years by taking over ocean rescue and emergency services, Fire Chief Ty Silcox requested two additional firefighters in order to have 10 firefighters on each of three daily shifts. The additions would allow for sick leave and firefighter schooling, and reduce overtime.

Silcox manages 28 firefighters in addition to two deputy fire chiefs and an administrative coordinator. The department also employs 50 seasonal ocean rescue workers.

Community Development Director Adrienne Burke, who manages 10 people, said she needs another full-time code enforcement officer. She said the city deals with a large number of code issues, and another officer would help the department be more proactive. Burke also requested a part-time planning and zoning technician.

Burke mentioned her need to replace building official Tony Anton-Guerrez when he retires, and that Florida makes it difficult to meet stringent requirements.

Commissioner Roy Smith complained code enforcement is a “broken system” because code violators continue to defy regulations. Burke responded that the department needs more political support in order to move toward a system of citations and immediate fines.

Rex Lester, director of the Streets and Parks Maintenance Department, currently manages 13 full-timers and three part-timers. Lester requested conversion of three 28-hour part-time positions to full-time. Vice-Mayor Lentz, however, reminded commissioners that making them full-time would double the costs of employing them.

Parks and Recreation Director Nan Voit, who manages nine full-time staffers and dozens of part-timers, said she would like three employees who were transferred from her department to the Maintenance Department in 2012 transferred back. She believes they would do a better job of maintaining parks if they worked for her.

Smith said he believes the recreation department should only handle programs and special events. Smith also complained that two-thirds of those using city recreational programs are county residents. He believes the city should either cut down on the programs or charge county residents more.

Utilities Department Director John Mandrick said three of his technicians had passed stringent state tests, and that he would like to upgrade their positions and change their job descriptions to add that they are state licensed operators.

“We have money in the enterprise fund … and we want to promote from within.” He wants to create a superintendent position in six months, and also requested that a warehouse technician’s job be changed to a purchasing position, because that position was taken away under former city manager Michael Czymbor.

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