Are higher fees and taxes inevitable in Port Orange ??

taxesThe past decade has been the worst in terms of economic decline since the depression of the 1930’s AND if the electronic food stamp lines of today were out doors they would dwarf the soup kitchen lines  of the1930’s
None-the-less in good times and bad the government sector takes care of itself.   In Port Orange employees case to the tune of a 30 %  average pay raise over the past decade not even counting their very generous benefits package.
The most egregious benefit of which is the buy-back of un-used sick and vacation time from department heads and other exempt employees whose time and attendance is not checked in any meaningful matter.  And if the Manager starts protesting this is not the case polity remind him that no meaningful action was taken in the payroll theft in the Utilities department last year for exactly that reason.
The former Manager left with an additional  $66,000 in cool walking money compliments of that one taxpayer scam alone.  The current budget for this one little perk is in the neighborhood of $500,000 this year, AND BEFORE  the next child  trips on debris coming out of sports fields that are built on a land fill maybe some soccer mom should ask Council why they are sanctioning this kind of spending duplicity.
Each of you I am sure know numerous people across various occupations in the private sector and if you were to ask them if their sector as a whole; be it realtors, carpenters, movers,  secretaries, welders, mechanics, sales agents, food service,  ex- military and our retirees etc are 30% better off than they were a decade ago the answer is a resounding  NO.   The economic backbone of small business in America is on its knees and the government sector keeps on taking care of itself as if nothing is fundamentally wrong with this picture.
Well  something is wrong and that is the upward pressure on fees and taxes required to sustain the superior wages and benefits paid by the government sector in Volusia County is rapidly becoming a self fulfilling prophesy.  The budget numbers in Port Orange are such that every 1% increase in total wages will require an approximate $250,000 increase in fees and taxes, AND the very people supposedly bargaining on taxpayers behalf to keep wage increases low benefit the most the higher those wage increases are.
AND BEFORE nameless city bloggers accuse me of wanting to pay city employees ‘plantation wages’  let me say that is not the case,
BUT WHAT is most defiantly the case is that I would like to see an honest side by side comparison between public and private sector salary and benefits with particular emphasis on where the $120,000 plus positions exist in the Port Orange private sector that  Manager Kisela and his overpaid department heads are receiving,
ALONG WITH an explanation as to why the 3 department heads who recently left the City’s employ have not been able to find private sector jobs paying even half of what the City was paying then if they were receiving only comparable wages from the City to begin with.
This is all such a scam on the taxpayer.
Collective bargaining on all 4 union contracts that expire this September began last  Tuesday evening and it began in a secret meeting …… with no indication from our elected representatives as to the wage increase the Manager is planning on granting his employees and executives alike.
That does not auger well for the wallets of Port Orange taxpayers.
Ted Noftall

om: Steinebach, Donna 
Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 11:02 AM
To: Kisela, Greg; DeptHeads
Cc: Carrizales, Heather
Subject: Wage Increases by Fiscal Year and Employee Group
Good Morning,
Attached is an updated table showing Wage Increases by Year and Employee Group over the past decade.   The increases and decreases are shown in the fiscal year they were implemented and resulted in an actual change in the employees’ pay.  Please keep in mind that not all changes took effect on October 1st, and some changes represent prior contract year(s).
Donna J. Steinebach
Administrative Services Director | City of Port Orange, Florida


10 thoughts on “Are higher fees and taxes inevitable in Port Orange ??

  • May 19, 2014 at 9:19 am

    With all due respect to our citizens I would like to respond to these comments. You bring up a good point as far as accountability is concerned on sick time sell back for exempt employees. I don’t know of any city employee that thinks that they are getting rich at the expense of tax payers with the possible exception of some in management. Many of them are Port Orange residents.
    City employees are just people like anyone else. They want take care of their families and pay their bills. They are not evil beings sent here to make your lives miserable. Maybe they have several kids and a disabled family member and grossing $30,000 per year with close to a third of their weekly wages going toward health insurance.
    I know city employees in this and similar situations. Before you start putting a price on people remember this. The personnel in fire, police and utilities are looking out for your health and safety. Can you put a price on that? They risk their lives to provide the services that they provide to the citizens. Can you put a price on their lives? These are for the most part highly trained professionally licensed and regulated people that are dedicated to serve and protect the citizens of our community. Many of these positions don’t exist or are not very prevalent in the private sector.
    I as a citizen of Port Orange don’t have a problem with managers making over $100,000 as long as they are performing at a level that rates the pay. Unfortunately we have a few managers that shouldn’t even be in the positions that they are in let alone making the salaries that they do, As far as ex management employees not being able to find a good paying job, why should anyone have to explain that? If they are anything like some of our current management than it’s self explanatory.
    Maybe some people would be happy if the city went to the corner burger joint and hired minimum wage burger flippers to replace our police, fire and utilities personnel. Just think how much money you could save!!!

  • May 19, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Either ANONYMOUS does not realize, OR more likely does not want your readers to realize that while the average remuneration for non government employees in Volusia County is $35,000 — the average for City of Port Orange employees is $75,000
    As stark as that difference is my objection is not with those city employees at or below that $75,000 average particularly if the City can demonstrate that those wages are comparable with the private sector which in many cases they can.
    Rather my objection is with those overpaid unaccountable upper management types for whom the Manager has turned excuse making into an art form, and who have no salary counterparts in the local private sector economy.
    Manager Kisela is himself the number one exhibit in support of this contention unless someone can start listing local private sector employers likely to pay him $187,614 for the performance he is turning in for the residents of Port Orange.

  • May 19, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    A few dirty little secrets that most tax payers do not know about.
    The people that are negotiating the new benefits & salary’s increases with the employees unions are the city’s $100,000+ management staff. These negotiators know that whatever benefits and raises they yield to the unions they will also receive the same or better. If you were in their position what would you do? DUH!
    I understand the city hires a labor lawyer to sit in on the negotiations at times. It has not gone unnoticed that recently a pro-union councilman moved to eliminate the lawyer during negotiations. He feels only city employees should be negotiating with city employees unions. DUH!
    One reason government employees salaries and benefits are spiraling out of control is they always push to compare their benefits and salaries to the pick of the litter of other government employees in other areas, and never those in the private sector. This results in the increasing discrepancy between public and private salaries & benefits.
    The rank and file employees that are in the $30,000/yr or less pay category should never fear any comparison to the private sector employee. They may benefit from such comparison. Its the fat cat city employee, that hit the lottery and are now on the gravy train that panics at the idea of salaries being compared to the private sector.
    It should also be noted that some employees took the $25,000 – $30,000/yr positions because of the great fringe benefits the city provides. These types of fringe benefits disappeared from private sector employment years ago.

  • May 19, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Sorry Ted that was me. I forgot to put my name on my post. I know many employees that don’t come close to $75,000. The city must be top heavy in management bringing the average up. There are some long time licensed professionals that make a decent wage below $75,000. After 20 to 30 plus years they are still below $75,000. Closer to the $40,000 to $60,000 range.
    A good number of the employees are in the $30,000 to $40,000 range. This puts things in more context than an overall average. I completely agree with you about upper management. I have wondered for years why can’t the city hire good managers? It can’t be that difficult. Whoever interviews these people must be naïve and gullible as hell or they do it on purpose.

  • May 19, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Thank you Rick,
    I rarely have a problem with middle level employees and below, IN ANY ORGANIZATION including the City of Port Orange. They are simply not the problem and you are right they have little to fear in any honest wage comparison. Senior management is another story all together.
    AND THE NOTION that that any manager whose time is not tracked in any meaningful fashion can sell sick and vacation time back to the taxpayers is duplicitous. The former manager asserting that he had the unused sick and vacation time he was paid for, or in the case of the current manager the unused 349 sick and vacation hours he asserts he has accrued is completely UN-VERIFIABLE.
    Manager Kisela has dragged his feet for the past year and has thrown up every phoney baloney argument he could think of for not implementing a biometric time clock for himself and his exempt employees.
    In the private sector he would have been told to hit the bricks months ago.
    Thank you for having the courage to speak out as you do and for the valuable insight you share with us every day..
    Ted Noftall

  • May 19, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Actually, the city is missing the mark in identifying and compensating value in the workplace. They hire retread MIT’s at the top salary of $110,000 to $125,000 a year, juice up their vacation and sick leave from day one, and often pay them to move here. Many of them are incompetent yet start at the top without having to prove their value or working from an entry level managerial salary and earning their way up.
    Seven or Eight years ago mayor Green appealed to the general employees and asked that they would sacrifice during the recession (by quietly accepting that the step increases that allow an employee to move through the salary range over a period of years if they performed well) their step increases and that they would be frozen until the recession ended. He also said all COLA’s would be frozen, but that when the recession was over that the city would take care of the employees. Presently the step increases are still frozen and non-existent so that all the entry level employees are unable to earn their way through the salary range irrespective of how well they perform or how much value they bring to the table. The city still advertises positions as if a salary range exists and is not always forthright in explaining to new hires that the salary range is a non-existent farce. This type of situation does not exist in the private sector in any respectable job. In the past 8 years their has been about a 5% Cola for the general employees which amounts to not much more than 1/2% per year. Port Orange is supposed to be a premier city among its peers but most of the neighboring cities are doing much better for their employees.
    Port Orange really has a succession problem in its work force and an aging work force that is getting ready to retire. They imported an incompetent city manager who has further imported an overpaid group of incompetent retread FCCMA managers that are yes men, and are here to pad their retirements. In the meantime, this city manager has declared a silent war on the rest of the work force and has given no one any tools in their box to develop succession plan. Middle managers and highly skilled technical professionals, as well as State licensed professionals in law enforcement, fire science, and public utilities are treated like dirt and are not valued. There is no incentive to move into supervisory or middle management positions, and under the present city manager’s domain these so called promotions turn out to effectively be demotions.
    Very few people with any potential or integrity want to work directly under the MIT bozos that have been recruited from the FCCMA and consequently the least competent individuals from the work force are promoted for their ass kissing skills. Competent supervisors and middle managers that still maintain their integrity are looked down on and often abused or treated like pariahs.
    The best new employees who came to work here with the understanding that there was an advertised salary range that one might set their goals on and work through soon find out that advancement or self betterment is non-existent in the city of Port Orange. As soon as they get some skills and experience under their belt they leave to find an organization that appreciates and rewards their value. Then the succession plan evaporates while the remaining valuable employees get older and older.
    This is currently a truly dysfunctional organizational. Their are relatively worthless individuals that are not earning their way up and are being paid way more than they would be in the private sector, while their are extremely valuable employees that are underpaid and have not had an incentive raise in over 8 years. This is going to bite the city and the taxpayers real badly in the next 5 years if something is not done now to recognize and reward value within the organization as well as public officials doing a major overhaul of administrative management.
    Maybe a value based broad banding pay system can be instituted that will reward value and mandate performance. Perhaps we can harvest more of our experienced middle managerial high performing known commodities that we have internally for administrative managerial opportunities or import some real talent from the private sector or perhaps retired military.
    As far as comparing public employment to the private sector in many cases it is like comparing apples to oranges. Their are some positions that you can find in both sectors. Unskilled and semi skilled labor probably does better in the public sector. Law enforcement, public safety, and public utilities is generally not found in the private sector, and for the skills they possess and the risks that these State licensed professionals are subject to most of them are under paid in the public sector. These are also the fields where there is the largest percentage of aging workforce, lack of succession planning, and potentiality of organizational implosion from imminent brain drain. Professional positions like engineering, law, and accounting does not pay nearly as much in the public sector than in the private sector. however most of the people employed in the public sector in these positions are so incompetent and valueless that they couldn’t hold a job in their chosen field in the private sector. The current city manager and most of his senior management team wouldn’t last 3 months in a private corporation the size of the city. As a matter of fact, a private company would have done their due diligence ahead of time and never hired them.

  • May 19, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    I had the opportunity to attend the open house this past Saturday that was held at the Port Orange water treatment plant and got a real pleasant surprise. With all the negativity that you hear about deficiencies in city operations on this blog I found the water operation to be an oasis in the midst of a desert. I had an opportunity to speak with a number of the staff that worked at this facility and found each and every one to be enthusiastic about their occupation and extremely professional as ambassadors of the city.
    I remember taking the plant tour with a very enthusiastic young man that is an operator at the plant. He had so much knowledge in his field and seemed to really love his work. He educated us on the process in a very interesting manner and explained about all the in house projects that saved the taxpayers millions of dollars that the staff had executed as a team. He had a very high opinion of his supervisors and colleagues and expressed what a great team he was a part of. It was obvious by the appearance of this facility that it is a first class operation.
    I am sure that there are many other fine operations that are part of the city work structure yet to be showcased. If there are other operations that approach the professionalism of this water plant and the team that staffs it then there is hope for the city. I just hope that as citizens we recognize and value outstanding operations like this.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.