KEY LARGO -- Much of the emphasis of the Key Largo Wastewater Board meeting Tuesday, Feb. 19, was expected to be about compensation. The meeting was held after the Free Press deadline.
The five-person panel last week failed to make a decision on whether to give itself and former members back pay for the past four years after initially agreeing unanimously to request permission from the state to only begin their pay raise this year.
The back pay, if approved, could amount to $59,000, according to comments from staff during a Feb. 5 meeting.
The only action the board took on the back pay issue during that meeting was to not go after it. That motion was brought forth by board member Steve Gibbs and supported by David Asdourian. But with Andy Tobin and Norm Higgins in dissent and Chairman Robby Majeska out due to the flu, the deadlocked board decided to table the matter. After the vote, Gibbs said his mind was not yet made up.
Majeska, the potential tie-breaking vote, told the Free Press last week that he would not support going after back pay.
"This is a legal thing to do," Majeska said, but added that it was not, in his opinion, the right thing to do. "I didn't run under false pretenses," he said.
Speaking at the district's meeting last week, former board member Susan Hammaker urged the board to not pursue back pay. She said she would donate any money she would receive. Attempts to reach former board member Charlie Brooks, who would also receive pay, were unsuccessful.
In January, the board agreed to ask the Florida Legislature to change its defunct cost-of-living index, which would increase board member pay from $300 per meeting to $382, with a maximum of three meetings per month.
Majeska also told the Free Press last week that he wants to change the number of meetings per month from three to two, which would result in less pay for the board.
Also, District Manager Margaret Blank's contract was expected to be back up for discussion during the Tuesday meeting. Blank is asking for an annual salary of $125,000. Some board members considered offering her a one-time bonus, but none voiced support for the full compensation request.
In previous negotiations, Asdourian asked Blank to come down off that number, arguing that she was high-balling the district. Blank is currently receiving an annual salary of $111,000.