Citizens for a Better Nassau – “Who will stand up for taxpayers?”

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Citizens for a Better Nassau
An Opinion
August 2, 2019 1:00 a.m.

One of the primary guiding principles of Citizens for a Better Nassau County is promoting better management and fiscal prudence in all government matters and improving management and stewardship of taxpayer dollars. As such, we have endeavored to regularly point out the fiscal shortcomings and dangerous policy inconsistencies of our county government. However, the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners has yet again demonstrated their lack of oversight and management, continuing to conduct their business affairs well outside conventional boundaries resulting in what smacks of old boy politics at the expense of the taxpayers.

Recently, our board of county commissioners voted unanimously in favor of a $270,000+ contract for Mike Mullin, our now county manager, who also serves in a dual role as county attorney. The contract requires a supermajority (4 out of 5 commissioners) to rescind it. This is yet another example of the commission having no respect for county taxpayers and their duty as managers and stewards of taxpayer dollars with strong oversight all in order to feather the nest of one of their own.

To illustrate how egregious this is, we obtained the 2018 county manager salary survey data from the Florida Association of Counties. Fifty of Florida’s 67 counties responded to the 2018 survey, and the data is quite revealing. Of 67 counties, Nassau County’s population, at a little under 83,000 residents, ranks 37thin terms of size of population served. However, our county manager’s salary ranks 2ndin the state and is comparable to county manager salaries in Pinellas (St. Petersburg/Clearwater), Orange (Orlando), and Hillsborough (Tampa) Counties, which all have a population 12 to 17 times the size of Nassau County.

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For a sense of scale, it’s instructive to look at a few counties that are similar to Nassau in terms of population served, characteristics and complexity. For example, Walton, Flagler and Indian River Counties are all rapidly growing coastal counties with a large retiree population that are comparable in population served. Indian River County ranks 32ndstatewide by population, Flagler ranks 35thand Walton ranks 41st. Yet, on a per-capita basis, Nassau County taxpayers pay almost 3 times the amount in county manager salary when compared to Indian River County, more than twice the amount as Flagler County and more than 30 percent more than taxpayers pay for their county manager in Walton County.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis makes a little over $130,000 per year, as do our county’s constitutional officers. Why is our county manager compensated at more than twice that? The other issue that highlights how highly questionable this decision was relates to the inherent lack of oversight created when one individual serves as both county manager and county attorney. Where are the checks and balances? Where does the county manager get his legal advice? Does anyone really believe he is performing two full-time jobs every week? And what is going to be the impact on taxpayers as a result of this conflicting arrangement?

Lastly, and most importantly, we have to simply ask who will stand up for taxpayers?

Bill Gingrich is a retired GE executive and chairman of Citizens for a Better Nassau County.

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6 Responses to Citizens for a Better Nassau – “Who will stand up for taxpayers?”

  1. Douglas Adkins says:

    Our friends at Wildlight, Florida are at it again. The fact is that Mike Mullin is the singular person standing strong along with our BOCC members to defend taxpayers from what in my opinion becomes close to a “corporate takeover” by a single company in our county. No other company in the county behaves in this manner so you have to ask yourself “why are our neighbors at Wildlight attacking Mike Mullin?” The answer is clear, Wildight needs a friendly BOCC that will obligate the county taxpayers to pay for the “public parks” mentioned in HB 1075. The truth is that Wildlight team made a mistake in inserting the word “public” into their plan for parks. The truth is that in order to get the New York bonding agencies to fund the $600 million in infrastructure funding that will enable them to accelerate the pace of growth. This is all “smoke and mirrors” and the Wildlight team is focused on taking over seats that will carry out their agenda for the county. I was told recently that political “hitman” and opposition research specialist Josh Cooper is now been retained to gather details on county government. I know Mike Mullin, I trust Mike Mullin and I know that Mike Mullin is worth every dime we pay him to defend our interests and keep Nassau County moving forward. I am grateful for the “Patriots” in local government who have the courage to stand up and take on the special interests, Mike Mullin is a real Patriot and we should stand and applaud his service to the citizens.

  2. Dave Lott says:

    Clearly a hit piece as Doug indicates although I have always felt that Mike’s dual role as county manager and county attorney is a mistake from a number of perspectives. Regardless, the financial comparison is totally bogus as it compares Mike’s combined salary against a single function salary. A true comparison would be to combine the salary of the county manager AND the county attorney of those other counties and see how Nassau County stands.

  3. Steven Crounse says:

    I’m in total agreement with Doug Adkins statements. We have a propaganda arm (Citizens for a Better Nassau) of the Wildlight Developers spewing disinformation, and rancor. We have a situation where a Corporate entity is trying to take over the political leadership of Nassau county. Anyone who’s lived in the area for any length of time, or is a history buff can compare. St. Mary’s/ Camden County Ga, when Gilman Paper Company took “total” control of their community. That’s never good for the locals. They should have a seat at the table. But only one.

  4. The salary does seem huge, but for me the question that folks should be asking is: what makes him super man? Able to perform two large, complex jobs simultaneously? If they are real, full time jobs, which one will he ignore when the going gets tough? When the county manager is needed to deal with a crisis and the county attorney faces a different one? Which one will get his attention?
    I worked two “full time” jobs for the same employer when I was younger and much more foolish. It quickly became apparent that it was simply not possible to perform both at a high standard. We are paying someone twice for the same 40 hours. I know we will not get our money’s worth for either job’s salary. Unless he really is superman – able and willing to work an 80+ hour week

    • Douglas Adkins says:

      Actually Nancy the task or function of managing local government is more efficiently run by having someone that can handle both roles, the productivity gains, elimination of endless meetings and the rapid response all allow the county to manage and move at a much faster rate than when you have two different people. What I do think we need in local government is what Sheriff Leeper did and that is an Inspector General to investigate complaints and make recommendations to the BOCC about ways to eliminate wasteful spending. The fact is that citizens need to have confidence in their local government and must have a level of trust that the government is acting in the broad public interests of the taxpayers rather than the narrow interests of the “special interests”. I believe that Mike Mullin is passionate about Nassau County and the citizens who call this home, he has raised his family here and been a part of the social fabric for many years, we all know Mr. Mullin. He courage and strength to stand up against the special interest attacks and the stead barrage of attacks on his integrity are the wounds of war he has taken on to help protect the people. We are lucky to have Mike Mullin advising our BOCC and helping citizens find solutions to the problems that arise day to day. Lets continue to stand with our local Patriots on the BOCC who are standing up for our citizens, taxpayers and way of life!

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