I read with great disappointment the article by Timothy O’Hara, titled “County workers get special storm pay.”
Let us take a step back to just after Hurricane Irma when we learned that a massive bill had accrued for special storm pay. This bill, in addition to pay for workers, included very generous overtime benefits for salaried employees not normally entitled to overtime pay. A lot of folks were terribly upset about this.
Our Monroe County commissioners exclaimed that they thought this had been fixed previously, and they vowed to fix it once and for all. They all, at least, pretended to be shocked that this occurred. The county administrator offered to resign over it. Several upper level managers stated that they would not take the pay. It was real showmanship.
Even though our commission has discussed this matter numerous times, the promised fix has not happened. Leadership has not occurred, and as a result, we continue to be in the same position as we were after Hurricane Irma. It is astonishing that we are paying the director of emergency management extra pay for doing her job. I thought we hired that person to plan and prepare for emergencies.
In my 31 years of public service I worked several salaried positions. Never once did I, nor any other salaried employee, receive overtime pay for dealing with countless emergencies. Salaried positions come with an array of benefits not afforded to non-salaried employees. They are not entitled to overtime. By the same token, if a salaried employee works less than 40 hours, there is no deduction of pay.
I don’t for a minute blame the salaried employees for taking a benefit the county wants to give them; however, I doubt seriously that given a choice between this special pay and their jobs you will find anyone willing to give up their position. The issue boils down to leadership. The county administrator works at the direction and will of the county commission. It is the commission that must lead by giving the appropriate direction to formulate a concrete policy that is in the best interest of the taxpayers. To that end, they have failed miserably.
Richard Barreto, Tavernier