|A WAKE UP CALL FOR COLLIER COUNTY
Rambosk Continues to Mislead About Pay Increases
As a Constitutional officer, the Sheriff reports to no one, except to you, the voter, once every four years. And this is the year that you can do something about his incredible mismanagement of taxpayer money.
Collier County announced last week it doesn’t have money to give our teachers a pay increase, and in 59 instances, it will terminate jobs.
All teachers, taxpayers, retirees and anyone that works hard for a living should be infuriated, and their primary focus should be on ousting one of the primary culprits of overspending in the County, Rambosk. There is plenty of fat in Rambosk’s $131.5 million budget, a budget he told Collier County Commissioners he wouldn’t be changing regardless of their objections.
Nearly a month ago I released a very damaging study on Collier County Sheriff’s Office pay increases over a 7-year period. The full report is attached. It isn’t pretty. Rambosk’s explanations are insulting. Here’s why excessive pay increases at the CCSO are important to you.
Pay increases of $850,000.Over the past five years, I discovered more than $850,000 in pay "increases" that could have easily been reappropirated to cover teacher salaries or for hiring additional road deputies.
More examples of wasted taxpayer money. On Friday, the Sheriff’s Office had a 4-page insert in the Naples Daily News, at a cost of about $4,100; the last page had nothing but photographs. At $4,100 every two months, that is a $25,000 annual expenditure that could be easily eliminated. More than 65% of all residents now have email and Rambosk has those emails. $25,000 covers the majority of a teacher’s salary.
Rambosk believes that no one cares and that he can ride out this storm if he clouds the discussion with misinformation. Once you read his explanations, draw your own conclusions as to how disconnected he is with the citizens he was elected to protect and serve.
Pay is Pay is Pay
Quite simply, for teachers, taxpayers, voters, and anyone you care to ask, pay is pay is pay. It is a single, uncomplicated, pocketbook issue.
It absolutely does not matter how is increased pay is "accounted for" or "doled out." At the end of a 12-month period – Fiscal Year or Calendar Year or some combination – if an individual earned more than the prior period, it is classified as a pay increase. If "NO MEMBER" of the CCSO was supposed to have had their salary increased since 2007, as the letter Rambosk signed and submitted to Collier County Commissioners details. Official records – not an explanation given to the Naples Daily News on an Excel spreadsheet – demonstrate that 109 had pay increases. Road deputies, correctional officers, teachers, everyone in the County has a right to be very upset.
According to Florida Retirement funds, today 38 CCSO employees earn more than $100,000; in FY 2006 only a handful, 10 made more than $100,000. Rambosk claims that pay increases for six senior executives at the Collier County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) were due to "incentive training," cashing in vacation time, etc.
Incentive Training is Just Another Word for PayIncrease or Bonus
This is another huge pain point to anyone that owns their own business or manages a corporate staff. No employee gets paid extra to take training, regardless of the type of training. Most employees are happy to take training as it adds to their resume. At the CCSO, not only do you get a base salary for a year’s worth of work, but you get paid extra for training. It’s like you get paid for 380 days a year when the rest of the world gets paid for 365 days.
Businesses and corporations expense the cost of training, fees, travel, and lodging. If you were one of the lucky ones at the CCSO to be selected to get "incentive" training, guess what, that’s not training, and it cannot be expensed. It is technically classifed by the IRS as income, aka, pay, and you must pay income taxes on that incentive. It’s no different than getting a bonus, which by the way, is also considered part of your total compensation and is taxable.
Reviewing the FY 11 increases, the average pay increase for 109 people was $8,000. Many Collier County residents are living pay check to pay check because someone in their household has lost their job, or their hours have been cut, or they are making a woefully low salary. For many, $8,000 is a BIG DEAL: it is car payments; it is mortgage payments; it is food and gas. In a downturned economy, everyone has sacrificed, everyone that is, except for the very top at the CCSO.
Rambosk is Manipulating Crime Stats: 6% vs. a 12% Crime Decrease
Sheriff Rambosk’s justification for his $131.5 million budget and paying his command staff extraordinarily high salaries is that he was successful in "kicking crime to the curb" this past year with a 6% overall decrease. A day after Rambosk held his briefing, Sheriff Scott from Lee County announced that crime had decreased 12% for the same time period.
Rambosk hates any comparison to Lee County. Why? Because the truth is that they do a better job overall – headlines to the contrary – of reducing crime. Using Rambosk’s own statistics, Lee County did a significantly better job of decreasing crime on a budget of $140 million and with twice the population. Recall also that Lee County’s command staff is 33% less than the CCSO. Lee County’s command staff earns about 40% less than the CCSO. Lee County spends more on Road Deputies and less on top administrative jobs.
Until I released our study of pay increases, absolutely no one in the County – including Collier County Commissioners – knew what anyone was earning at the CCSO. Salaries are reported as aggregate numbers so they are hidden from taxpayer scrutiny. Why all the secrecy? The only way we can fix the problems with our government institutions is to have access to data to evaluate whether the public’s trust is being violated.
There are absolutely no checks or balances against Rambosk’s decisions and spending. Who approved overtime? Who approved what is now being referred to as "incentive" training? Are road deputies and correctional officers eligible for "incentive" training?
The root problem of the pay increase issue is one of perception. Like many other large institutions, leaders like Rambosk chose not to do the right thing when he was fully able to do so. Unfortunately, if he doesn’t perform in the best interests of the community, there is no one there to police him.
No ImmunityGovernment – PUBLIC SERVICE – jobs should not be immune to pay cuts or RIFs. When ad valorem revenue is down, Collier County salaries should decrease. This just makes common sense, but at the CCSO, once your salary increases, it doesn’t decrease.
It is very clear that Rambosk is out of touch with what happens in the real world of business, especially a business with a $131.5 million budget. In business, we would not be having this debate. A decrease in revenue automatically triggers several key actions by a CEO: pay cuts, layoffs, salary freezes, travel freezes, training holds, and the like. Normally, a CEO and his senior staff take pay increases first because they are most able to absorb the impact.
Rambosk Did Not Do the Right Thing
During the past four years, the right thing would have been for Rambosk to have met with his Chiefs and the 16+ Commanders during budgeting. He should have taken a pay decrease; he should have imposed a pay reduction for his command staff as well. Travel, training, overtime, should all have been frozen. Instead, Rambosk created workarounds for everyone at the top, and ignored the rank and file.
It is time that we focus on the people – the road deputies, the correctional officers, the commanders, the directors and chiefs – who comprise the organization. We need to get the right people in the right jobs doing the right things.The CCSO needs to be streamlined and in doing so we will make the organization significantly more efficient.
Early Voting Has Begun
It was exciting to see early voters cast their ballots yesterday at The Orange Blossom Library. Early voting for the August Republican Primary will continue through August 11. The polls are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Vote at any one of the following locations:
- Everglades City Hall – 102 Copeland Avenue N, Everglades City
- Golden Gate Library – 2432 Lucerne Road, Naples
- Immokalee Library – 417 N First St, Immokalee
- Library Headquarters – 2385 Orange Blossom Drive, Naples
- Marco Island Library – 210 S Heathwood Drive, Marco Island
- Naples City Hall – 735 8th Street S, Naples
- Supervisor of Elections Office – 3295 Tamiami Trail E, Naples
What Else Can You Do?
Spread the word. Forward this email to everyone you know. Teachers, Firemen, EMS, other County workers.
The August 14 primary is open to Republicans only. Please encourage your fellow Republicans to vote. It is important that every voter that can vote in the Primary, actually vote.