Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
March 8, 2021
In order to prepare the Fernandina Beach City Commissioners to make informed decisions on development of the City’s FY 2021-2022 Budget, City Manager Dale Martin has scheduled briefings from Department Directors during the FBCC Workshops that precede their regular meetings on the first and third Tuesday of each month. To date, Commissioners have heard from the Directors of the Parks and Recreation Department and the Human Resources Department
Parks and Recreation Department
In February, Parks and Recreation Director Nan Voit provided the FBCC with a strategic summary of her department, which currently employs 26 full-time, 39 part-time and 16 seasonal employees throughout 7 divisions: Recreation, Parks, Peck, MLK, Youth Programs, Aquatics and the Cemetery. The Parks Division has the most full-time staff (11), and the Cemetery Division has the least (2). The Aquatics Division with 23 employees is the most heavily staffed with one full-time, 12 part-time and 10 seasonal employees, followed by the Recreation Division with 7 full-time and 14 part-time staff.
The Department is responsible for managing almost 500 acres of land, which includes:
Voit explained her justification for additional personnel — 4 full-time and 7 part-time — in the new budget year. Alternatives to more staff could include contracting out cemetery maintenance, outsourcing control of invasive plants in Egans Creek Greenway, and outsourcing cleaning of all facilities.
Although she did not specifically request a new position for information technology or a budget increase, she expressed a desire to provide better communication with the public via social media to provide timely updates on changes in activities, weather delays and lost and found items.
Voit also anticipated higher workloads in dealing with acquisition and management and conservation land as well as maintenance of current natural area structures, such as trails, bridges, pavilions and dune walkovers.
P&R anticipated needs for capital projects are reflected below:
Her recommendation is to address current facility deficiencies prior to adding new facilities.
Human Resources Department
Denise Matson became Human Resources Director in September 2020. Her department employs three full-time staff members, who support the City’s 212 full-time and 61 part-time staff as well as more than 130 City retirees. They coordinate the annual recruitment and hiring of approximately 60 temporary/seasonal staff.
Work of the department includes:
They also negotiate collective bargaining agreements with representatives of soon to be three separate bargaining units.
She cited three major challenges of 2020: departmental turnover, the COVID-19 Pandemic, and Legislative impacts in labor to include the pandemic, DOT/CDL Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse and the voter approved minimum wage increase.
Matson was not currently seeking additional personnel in the new budget year. However, she raised some issues impacting the City’s ability to recruit and retain personnel.
She reported that there has been no adjustment to ranges in the City’s Pay & Classification Plan for 13 years, and a resulting turnover exceeding 20 percent during the last two fiscal years. [Industry standard for local government is 10 percent.] Employees in search of better paying jobs in public safety accept positions with the City of Jacksonville. Employees at the lower end of the pay scale only stay about 5 years.
The voter mandated increase in the Minimum Wage over the next 5 years to $15 per hour, will also have an effect on the City’s personnel budget. While the immediate impact is minimal, it will ultimately affect a third of the City’s workforce.
Matson reported that the City has a mandatory retention requirement for departmental records ranging from 5-50 years. She would like to decrease cost for offsite storage of the more than 50 cubic feet of records by digitizing the records. Software is already available in the City. This action would improve efficiency and provide more protection for the records. She is reviewing options for the best way to accomplish this.
She is seeking an upgrade to the City’s payroll/timekeeping system which is no longer being supported by the vendor due to its age. This would be a coordinated effort with the Information Technology and Finance Departments with an estimated cost of $302,000.
The Human Resources Department filled a vacant position in January, bringing its total staff to three.