Big Government Pay Raises Approved

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The Fort Myers Beach town council has approved big pay increases for several contract employees. The pay raises were unanimously approved Monday despite the uncertainty repeatedly communicated to council by Town Manager Roger Hernstadt about revenue shortfalls to pay for the Bay Oaks and Times Square renovation projects, a possible millage rate hike and user fees at Bay Oaks and the pool seeing dramatic increases.

The biggest pay increase will go to Community Services Administrator Daphnie Saunders who will be paid $55.00 per hour for 4 or 5 days of work per week. The previous employment agreement with Saunders paid her $45.00 per hour for 3 days of work per week. If Saunders works 5 days per week, 8 hours per day, for 52 weeks per year, she’ll be paid $114,400.

Environmental Services Manager Chad Chustz will be paid $40 per hour for 4-5 days of work, according to the new agreement. If Chustz worked 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, 52 weeks per year, that salary would amount to $83,200 for the year. The last agreement with Chustz approved by council one year ago had Chustz being paid a total of $75,000.

Jason Green and Sarah Propst who are listed as employees of Axis Infrastructure will be paid a total not to exceed $135,000 for services in the area of planning/zoning, workforce housing, and comprehensive plan coordination. One year ago the agreement for those services was $125,000.

Other government salaries include town manager Roger Hernstadt who’s base salary is $173,000. All in, with benefits, the cost to the taxpayer is $230,000. The town also pays a social media and communications coordinator a base salary of $75,000. With benefits that position costs taxpayers $98,000.

According to at least one council member, town manager Roger Herndtadt has told them he has to raise the pay for town staff and consultants across the board because former Public Works Director Chelsea O’Riley, who is now the district manager in Gateway, was trying to hire employees away from the town. During Hernstadt’s recent performance review, Vice Mayor Rexann Hosafros said morale amongst town employees was very high thanks to Hernstadt.

The town is getting ready to consider increasing fees on users of the community pool and Bay Oaks in an effort to help cover the cost for those community amenities. It’s also possible the town council could approve a millage rate increase on taxpayers when discussing the budget in September. Hernstadt has also repeatedly stated that there’s not enough money in the budget to complete the massive Bay Oaks project. He also lost a $1 million grant to help with the redevelopment of Times Square when the Governor vetoed the money.

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