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Council discusses compensation, stormwater at COW

By Staff | May 8, 2015

The Cape Coral City Council learned just how city workers stack up with like-sized communities in the state in regards to compensation and also learned about the city’s most comprehensive stormwater master plan to date during the Committee of the Whole meeting Wednesday at the Nicholas Annex.

According to the data collected during the three-month analysis, Cape Coral is “undermarket,” which means workers are below the 75th percentile of the data, but with pay raises approved last year, the city is catching up, according to Lisa Sonego, Cape Coral’s Human Resource director.

City Manager John Szerlag said the total compensation summary, which was done with the help of the police union and the non-bargaining group, used a methodology that would set the standard for how city workers would be compensated.

“The data shows the full compensation a city worker receives so they would see each type of job and what pay and benefits they receive,” Sonego said. “The goal was to see where we sit. It wasn’t to make a statement.”

Basically, it compared Cape Coral’s four employee groups; police, fire, general and non-bargaining, with similar groups in the municipalities of Clearwater, Coral Springs, Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, Port St. Lucie and Tallahassee.

Factors taken into account were base pay, benefits packages and resources offered to employees used to attract, motivate and retain employees.

They were gathered for the purpose of comparison in connection with the parties bargaining for successor collective bargaining agreements.

It was a lot of data, hundreds of pages, admittedly too much for many members of the city council to digest in one sitting.

Councilmember John Carioscia said the data gathered will be priceless in figuring out what and how to compensate workers, adding that there are great benefits to working in Cape Coral.

“Without having comps, we can talk all day and negotiate all night and still won’t know where we’re at. This has set the table in regards to what we pay and what other comparable cities pay,” Carioscia said. “Does it mean we should pay what others are paying? That’s the big question.”

The city council also heard a presentation regarding Phase II of the Cape Coral Stormwater Master Plan, which Steve Neff called the most complete master plan the city has ever had, and the first time there has been a citywide model prepared in the last 30 years.

“It’s a great tool that helps us manage what Derrick Donnell has called gold in our water resource. We want to address flooding issues. We also want to address water quality because a lot of people use our canals and address it as a water use,”

The master plan was composed of three parts; a city-wide stormwater model, a water quality management plan, and the stormwater maintenance master plan review.

Among the conclusions were that the canal system functions well in a 25-year design storm event with the exception of two weirs that would need to be fixed at a price tag of $1 million apiece and that most flooding issues are related to secondary flooding, caused by drainage efficiency and availability.

“We would have some funding for flooding as well as for water quality at about $1.2 million per year. The weirs were identified as short-term projects,” Neff said.

Also, among the goals would be “to establish a plan for the city to show continuous progress toward meeting water quality goals in the most cost-effective manner possible,” which would be achieved through best practices available to them in their tool kit, according to the study.

Part three of the study justified maintenance activities and planned improvements for increased efficiency in inspections .