Commission approves Heidi Petito’s administrator contract, with increase of $ 14,000 which raises objection


The Flagler County Commission tonight approved Heidi Petito’s indeterminate contract as permanent county manager on a 4-1 vote, with the county commissioner dissenting on the $ 14,000 increase that the contract had attributes and lack of deliberation of the commission before its approval.

Petito had been paid $ 155,000 as chief of staff. When she was appointed acting county administrator in June, she received the same salary as Jerry Cameron, the interim she was replacing, was making at the time: $ 165,984. The contract making her the permanent administrator gives her an annual base salary of $ 179,000, an increase of 8%. Petito also receives a car allowance of $ 500 per month and will get the cost-of-living salary increase for county employees each year, as well as a merit-based salary increase if the board deems it appropriate. The health benefits of Petito are the same as the base. (See the full contract below.)

The contract was initially to be negotiated with Petito by the county’s human resources manager. Over Dance’s objections, he was negotiated with County District Attorney Al Hadeed, who is not responding to Petito.

Dance complimented Petito and stressed that her vote was not due to a lack of self-confidence: it was part of the unanimous vote two weeks ago appointing her permanent director. On the contrary, the vote was his last of many signs of dissatisfaction with the committee’s habit of making important decisions with little deliberation.

“I’m afraid people will think my vote against the contract is somehow related to my confidence in Ms. Petito and it’s not,” Dance said. “I just want Heidi to know it’s as strong as ever.” But he said the commission has become “comfortable with the way we continue to do things” when it could have approached contract discussions more thoughtfully. “Having a debate on the contract and a workshop, I think, would have been more careful, so that we all had time to discuss things, but our processes are what they are. “

He had started his objections earlier in the meeting when he said he was “not yet ready to raise the starting salary to 179. Petito a few goals.” Dance had prepared an amendment to the contract that would have included a self-assessment, the committee’s assessment schedule, set goals and performance targets after the exercise was completed. He was applying the approach he had helped when he was a member of the school board, drawing up several contracts for successive superintendents and setting goals in those contracts. Meanwhile, he offered to keep the salary of $ 165,000, with the figure of $ 179,000 being a target at the end of a three-year term.

“As part of the self-assessment, the administrator must provide an annual self-assessment no later than June 1 of each year,” reads his amendment, “the self-assessment of the achievements of the administrator and the achievement of agreed objectives. By August 1 of each year, the commission evaluates the performance of the administrator using the county administrator evaluation form, which has been used in the past. Each commissioner meets with the administrator individually in the period between the self-assessment and the assessment submitted to share his views. There is a line for an interim review where each commissioner must perform an individual verbal informal review with the administrator and in January of each year.

The commission and the administrator would have been required, towards the end of each year, to publicly announce workshops or meetings to establish annual goals and performance targets, whether to meet reserve targets. , update the county’s comprehensive plan or land use planning code, or achieve certain certifications. The contract didn’t focus on the administrator’s review, Dance said. “I mean we didn’t really discuss a raise, it just seemed like it was going to be this formality of signing the contract,” Dance said.

“Commissioner Dance, without wanting to offend the school board and what’s going on all over there, how it works, I’m not a fan of any of that,” Commissioner Joe Mullins said, blaming “and I think it’s is largely one of the structures that has been put in place for them.

Commissioner Greg Hansen also rejected the idea, saying he evaluates the administrator every day as he is. “I think we have a pretty good system here. I like the way it works, ”said Hansen.

It was Hansen who, after a committee meeting two weeks ago, offered to hire Petito as permanent director. The point was not on the agenda. The dance was not happy, wishing that a certain process would be respected. But the co-commissioners told her that all they were doing was appointing her as a permanent administrator, not defining the contract. It was to come later – and come back to the commissioners, where they could discuss it. “The motion is directional in terms of how we feel, but we have no contract at this stage,” Commission President Donald O’Brien said.

Now that the commissioners had a contract, the approach was no different. They weren’t interested in discussing its details.

“Andy, as usual, made good points on things, but in this particular case we discussed it at the last meeting,” said Commissioner Dave Sullivan, “and I think the salary was in the limits from what I could see there of what the averages are in countries like us. And so I have no reason not to go ahead with that today. “

It seemed that the purpose of Dance had been misunderstood, and Dance again tried to clarify, “It is a contractual language that I put forward and which I think is our responsibility to do everything possible to do so. ‘to come up. Ms. Petito won’t be the county administrator forever and we are setting a precedent with each contract as we move forward. I think it is our duty to establish a more precise format for the exams. Every county employee goes through a review process. Ours is very informal, it is not specified.

Chet Lagana, the county’s fleet manager, told commissioners he had worked for Petito for 15 years in general service, the division she headed. “I want to assure all of you that she has everyone’s complete confidence in General Service and the rest of the county. No one works harder than Heidi, ”Lagana said. “I hope she has your trust in this, and a few dollars here and there we spend money sometimes stupidly.” She is the most qualified person for this job, and I think she will do a great job.

Heidi Petito’s contract (2021):

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