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CEPD commissioners talk interim staff contracts

By TIFFANY REPECKI / trepecki@breezenewspapers.com - | Oct 27, 2020

At a recent workshop session, members of the Captiva Erosion Prevention District discussed possible contract agreements regarding its interim staffers to bring forward at the November board meeting.

On Oct. 22, Chairman Mike Mullins raised the topic of offering consultants Evan Cutler and John Riegert each a one-year contract, to include a 30-day notice of termination, before Treasurer Dick Pyle and Commissioner Rene Miville. He questioned whether to go with an hourly pay and how much.

Vice Chair Bob Walter and Secretary Harry Kaiser were unable to attend the workshop.

“These guys are working pretty hard,” Mullins said.

He suggested offering Cutler $50 per hour and limiting him to 40 hours per week, explaining later during the workshop that Cutler had initially sought $75 per hour and he negotiated him down. Mullins recommended a $40 per hour rate for Riegert, adding that he was told his hours also would capped.

“I like the rationale of the one year, one month. There has to be some flexibility,” Miville responded. “Fifty bucks an hour is a stretch — I think that’s really going to raise the hackles of Lee County.”

He countered with offering them $35 per hour, then raising it to $40 if there is pushback.

Pyle voiced agreement with Miville, placing an emphasis on the duties of the jobs.

“That you set expectations about what they’re going to do to earn that,” he said. “I think we’ve got to get away from this idea of the commissioners have to run the business. I didn’t sign up for that.”

Pyle pointed out that a $50 per hour rate would equate to about $100,000 annually and $35 per hour would equal about $75,000, adding that he wants the staff to know what will be expected of them.

“We expect them to be in the office five days a week,” he said.

Based on the feedback, Mullins anticipates presenting proposed terms, including hourly rates and annual contracts, to the full commission for a vote at its upcoming board meeting. He added that it will be explained to Cutler and Riegert that commissioners are viewing these jobs as salaried positions.

Also at the workshop, Miville provided an update on the candidate search to permanently fill the administrator and assistant administrator positions. He reported that the search has been going on for about two months with approximately 20 applications received, followed by about 10 interviews.

“We’ve got it down to two,” Miville said of the narrowed down list of candidates. “There are two people who are very, very very interesting, who can step in and run it and do a really good job.”

He anticipates presenting the two finalists at the November board meeting.

“We’re going to have a director, I’m thinking, in about four weeks,” Miville said of if the commission approves one of them. “Five weeks somebody’s going to be walking in the door as the new boss.”

During the discussion of the timeline, Mullins floated the idea of having a third staffer.

“I don’t think it’s a three-person job,” Miville said of the workload.

Pyle echoed that sentiment.

“I wasn’t thinking we were going to have three people,” he said, explaining that he was under the impression that there would be an administrator and an assistant once everything was settled.

“I don’t think we can afford that many people,” Pyle added. “I don’t think we need more than two highly paid professionals.”

Mullins explained that he is thinking of a temporary overlap, possibly through the end of the year, to accommodate for a transitional period for the permanent staff to get settled after coming on board.

Miville agreed with that, voicing his support for some overlap and related extra costs.

“If it costs a little extra for a few months, we can afford it,” Mullins said.

Pyle questioned whether there is an increase in the staff’s workload leading up to a beach renourishment project, to which Mullins told him yes. In response, Pyle continued that perhaps the commission then would need three people on hand until the upcoming project is finished.

Also during the workshop, Mullins reported that Cutler and Riegert have submitted resumes for consideration for the two permanent positions. He shared that Riegert typically stays focused on the tasks he is given, while Cutler is less focused and trying to keep Cutler focused “is a challenge.”

Mullins added that he has already expressed his feedback to both of them.