County Employment Contracts

Private sector vs. private sectorWhen Hillsborough County leadership considers employment terms, the mantra is always “What would the private sector do?”

When was the last time that any of the County Board of County Commissioners ran a private sector company?

I ask this not because I think they aren’t capable, but rather that I question how well they are steeped in the realities of  today’s private sector business enterprise.

When an employment opening occurs in the private sector, a careful examination of the duties and desired performance goals are determined and made part of the candidate search. No one is even considered who does not meet the minimum requirements thus set forth.

Our County Charter requires certain things, such as minimal education and residency requirements. Waiving either or both of these, set a hazardous precedent which future commissioners will then be bound.

What goals are set forth? Balance the budget by 2013? Finance light-rail by 2014? How will anyone know if someone has succeeded if no goals are first set forth?

Private enterprise always looks to draw the best possible talent from the widest available employment pool. This is done by at least running a small employment ad in the local paper. An important job opening begs a national search. While it is easy to promote the next person in line, it may not be the best answer. A fresh face with new ideas may bring fresh results.

When the private sector promotes someone to a higher position, that person is NEVER given close to the same salary and benefits as the person leaving that position had. Why? Because they can, and should.

The grim reality of private enterprise today is that VERY talented and experienced people are willing to accept much less money and benefits just to be working again. It is a buyer’s market. Also, starting someone out at top salary leaves no room to reward outstanding performance.  It is impossible, short of termination, to reduce someone’s salary for poor performance.

How do private sector salaries stack up to public sector salaries?
Check out the top 5%

How about fed vs. county?

Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court earns $217,400

Speaker of the House in DC earns $223,500

Secretary of State earns $196,700

Secretary of State earns $196,700

$225,000 + $750/mo. car allowance?

County Administrator $225,000 + $750/mo. car allowance?


The voters of Hillsborough County hired the current board of commissioners, in their minds, to best represent them. We all entrusted them in turn to hire the best available candidates, at the most affordable salaries to accomplish the most important County goals.

I only question if we are getting what we bargained for.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen


4 Responses to “County Employment Contracts”

  1. Need a financial position comp?

    How about the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency?

    Serves to charter, regulate, and supervise all national banks and the federal branches and agencies of foreign banks in the United States.

    Top pay range is from $177, 500 to $275,000
    No car allowance, instead, a non-taxable subsidy for use on established public transportation systems to commute to and from their regular place of business.

  2. Exactly! The US President makes only $400k! It’s obscene when corporate boards grant their presidents and CEOs millions in pay, but in those situations it is up to stockholders to challenge the boards for what is being done with profits and the values earned for services rendered.

    Our governments’ stockholders are us! What in the world is a county administrator doing earning $225? What is the value received? Next time your taxes go up, next time you bang through a pothole, next time a park is in disrepair, next time a pool is closed or dirty, think of how much it would have taken to fund the solution — then think of how that went into the administrator’s paycheck and the paychecks of his peers!

    Fred, thanks for bringing this to our attention. The sad part is that we all know this and do nothing about it!

  3. Who gets a car allowance in the private sector? Maybe a traveling salesman gets reimbursed for his mileage, but the well-paid managers of businesses who simply commute to their jobs in a local office building don’t get car allowances. What’s next, milk money?

  4. I just wrote a letter to the editor of the Trib about this…offering my services as the negotiator of Merrill’s contract instead of Chairman Higginbotham. I would play hardball. I’m a taxpayer…it’s my money they are tossing around.

    Have commissioners learned nothing from the Bean and Lee ironclad contracts that tied their hands from firing them and left taxpayers on the hook for outrageous severance??? (In Lee’s contract the only way they can fire her w/out 250 million severance is if she is CONVICTED of a crime.)

    I would say to Merrill…”ok, Bub, here’s the deal..and it’s only good til close of business tomorrow…so think fast. 189K to start, (and Fred, after reading your blog, I’m thinking that’s too much..) a 2 yr contract, 150 bucks a month car allowance, you have 3 months to get yourself moved from Clearwater to Hillsborough, we can fire you for any reason with severance of 3 months pay unless we fire you for cause. Bumpkus if we fire you for cause. The list of “cause” will be pretty lengthy, but reasonable. Take it or leave it.”

    The Board is being WAY too free with taxpayers’ money. Move over and let one of US negotiate this contract.

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