DADE CITY - Pasco County Administrator Michele Baker, who saw her pay bumped 24 percent when she stepped in as acting administrator last month, would not get another raise for at least a year under the contract commissioners approved Tuesday.
The two-year contract maintains Baker's current $170,000 salary, but she also would receive an additional $450 monthly car allowance. On her one-year anniversary, Baker would be eligible for a $10,000 raise if she receives an "above average" review from commissioners. That would bring her salary in line with that earned by her mentor, retired County Administrator John Gallagher, who held the position for 31 years.
But Commissioners Henry Wilson and Kathryn Starkey questioned offering such a large increase after only one year on the job.
"I don't think it's necessary," Wilson said. "If she gets a good review, she gets a raise just like everybody else."
Chairman Ted Schrader defended the $10,000 raise, noting that Pasco County paid its administrative staff well below market rate.
"I think it is more than fair," he said. "It gives her an opportunity to demonstrate she's capable of doing the job. She doesn't get the raise unless a majority of commissioners vote for it."
Wilson pointed out that commissioners have not done a performance review for the county administrator since he was elected. Commissioner Pat Mulieri, who has served nearly two decades on the board, said she could recall only one time the commission had evaluated Gallagher.
"I do think we should evaluate her," Mulieri said. "When I taught at the college, we were evaluated every year."
Baker assuaged their concerns by stepping in and offering to develop a set of criteria and measurable goals for the position. "It would be my honor," she said.
Commissioners also tweaked a section of the contract that offered Baker county health insurance if she retires after 30 years on the job. While that benefit is available to all county employees, Wilson said the county's insurance committee is currently revising it.
"I think that's something that we, as responsible elected officials, are moving away from," Starkey said.
The contract includes a 20-week severance package if the board fires Baker without cause.
Commissioners had indicated they were willing to consider paying more than $200,000 to lure an outside candidate with management experience.
As chief assistant county administrator, Baker earned $137,500 - well below the salaries of the three men who also interviewed for the position.