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I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.








Wednesday, September 27, 2017

"Salary Compression" Suddenly Erupts Like a Volcano in Escambia County........

...But during the hotly contested political campaign for the BCC District 1 seat--the issue of Salary Compression NEVER came up

I just recently won the election to take this seat.  I’ve been a commissioner for less than one year.   I fought through a very tough campaign with some very formidable and well-funded opponents.  We talked a lot about infrastructure, we talked a lot about storm water, we talked about traffic, we talked economic development and quality of life, we talked about OLF 8. We talked about lots of different subjects with the residents of District 1.

We talked about all these things and then some—bit here’s the peculiar thing, though.

We never talked about salary compression—it wasn’t on anyone’s radar.

Suddenly the issue of pay compression is the most pressing issue in the entire county.  The Sheriff’s office is saying the situation is approaching critical mass, and they are losing journeymen officers to higher paying departments.  I’m told that this has been a problem for many, many years.  Now ECSO is havingtrouble staffing and they’re cutting back on services and curtailing patrols insome districts?!?

One of my opponents was actually endorsed by the PBA union and even this candidate never discussed pay compression at the ECSO.  This candidate talked about a Master Plan for Beulah, a Strategic Plan for the county, hiring a grant writer full time, and a few other things that were “out-there” as issues all the candidates recognized…but even this PBA-endorsed, hand-selected candidate of the Sheriff’s office didn’t have this issue on the radar.  None of us did because it wasn’t an issue during the campaign.

When I won my primary on August 30th, 2016---one of the first calls of congratulations I received was from Sheriff Morgan.  He didn't bring up pay compression then,  and from the time I won my general election in August of 2016 until the Summer--Sheriff Morgan never reached out to me with



 Salary Compression as the biggest issue on the agenda for his department.  That conversation never happened.

So as my 7th month on the board arrived, and I was on vacation in Del Mar California, my phone started blowing up about a firestorm back in Pensacola over “salary compression” as the driver for a demand of an 8% year-over-year budget increase for the ECSO that the BCC couldn't afford.  8%!!----for Salary compression.  Where was this coming from and why had this not been a HUGE talking point earlier?!?  Very peculiar and odd...

Here’s what I know about salary compression:  We had the same issue in the school district and we solved it by working hard, negotiating with our union, raising pay on the steps above starting teacher pay, re-organizing the steps, and funding the increases for journeymen teachers.  It took many years, lots of money, and lots of bargaining sessions with the union.  Compression happens when there aren’t enough funds for across the board raises, and starting pay is bumped up to gain fresh recruits—while the rest of the pay scale is held static, in place.  Left to happen for a number of years, compression naturally occurs and when the 10-15 year employee is making just a little more than the new recruits—they leave for better pay.

So the phenomenon of pay compression is not unique to one department either.  Several county departments and BCC divisions are experiencing this same issue.  We need to tackle the problem but it will take discipline, time, money, patience and bargaining with the union (s).  Pay compression did not occur here overnight, and it will not be solved in a short period of time.  As I said on the dais last night, I believe the right approach to fixing compression in all of Escambia County is by forming a committee to develop a strategic plan to address the problem cooperatively.

When I am the chairman of the BCC beginning in November, this will be one of the first issues I start to work on.

But it will be a multiyear problem to fix, many years.  There are no quick fixes to this problem when money is tight and several departments have the issue simultaneously.


But now that this volcano has erupted, now that this is on the radar (because as I stated earlier it wasn’t during the campaign) we will work toward solving it.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.northescambia.com/2009/07/tax-watch-issues-report-sheriff-disagrees-with-findings

Eric Haines said...

It took me a while to find it Commissioner but hopefully this Facebook exchange between you and I from September of 2015 will refresh your memory. You'll see me explaining compression and then you requesting a meeting. You also requested information from our CFO about the things I was saying. We ended up meeting on 10/8/2015 in your School Board Office. I've been talking about compression for a lonnnnngggggg time and you were aware of it at least two years ago....

https://www.facebook.com/ericahaines/posts/10155004445573527

Jeff Bergosh said...

Eric--Like I said, this issue did not come up at all during the campaign, and during our back and forth two years ago, our discussion on face book, you never mentioned salary compression to me and I did not discuss it with you--even though I am familiar with the issue because the school district had this same issue until we worked together to fix it. We all now know it is your number one issue--even though the PBA endorsed, hand-selected candidate never mentioned it once, not at all and it was never an issue in my campaign. Anyways, we will work on it, we will look at all departments and constitutional offices, to include EMS, FIRE, Corrections, the Clerk's Office and the SOE, and we will develop a plan to work on compression for all employees. And it is not a one-year fix; We don't have a printing press and I will not raise year over year tax rates so we will have to work on a phased-in approach.

Warren Zurell said...

I appreciate your stance. I understand that once money is given to the ECSD, Mr. Morgan is able to do whatever he decides. In tight times, I find it irresponsible to purchase equipment for occasional and non essential use. Last week when I drove by the ECSD garage, I noticed two large tow trucks sitting idle. Previously outside commpanies were contracted to impound vehicles. Presently outside contractors still do. So why do we need TWO trucks? As I citizen, I am bombarded with political advertisements urging me to call my commissioner and ask him to give our bully sheriff what he wants. Could not the funds for the billboards be used to keep the resource officers in the schools? Clearly Mr. Morgan has little respect for the people of the county when he announces that taxpayers will no longer be given an escort to their final resting place. Daily, our war veterans die and are laid to rest at Barrancus Cemetery. Mr. Morgan is now charging the families for an escort onto N.A.S. As a veteran he should know better. As a fellow citizen, he should at the very least, escort the people who have paid his salary. The list of misuse of funds is lengthy. Before the Sheriff is given any more, a complete audit should be done beginning with the first day he set foot in his office. Only then should the county find a way to increase his budget if merited.

Anonymous said...

You're getting beat up on Escambia Citizens Watch on Facebook. In your candidate form, you mention compression. I understand that to mean compression exists, as it does with any organization. The sheriff has had increases in his budget every year since the recession ended. What did he do with the money about compression? Grow his administration larger than RonnieMac. I never heard about the compression issue until Morgan's extortion of the board and citizenry with reducing services until he gets his way. The silent majority support you, so keep doing what you're doing.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Warren Zurell--I have been contacted by many current and former employees of the sheriff's office, including high-ranking ones. Several former employees are currently going through the budget documents, page by page, centimeter by centimeter, and there are areas where that office could economize--there is no doubt. However, I think it is safe to say that most goverenmental entities could do better. I only regret the fact that this budget has become so personalized, with vicious, ad hominem attacks on our character being hurled at us all summer long. We compromised, and then we are hit with patrol reductions in our districts. I am told that for the last five years running, we have funded the sheriff's office with allocations sufficient to provided 3% Pay increases for all of their employees. 5 years, 15% increase total, and for this we are supposed to feel ashamed? Many in the private sector, many I know, have gone a DECADE with no increase as a result of the double-whammy of the great recession and the oil spill. Sad to do one's best and provide an increase only to be spit-on by many online for doing it. Very sad, very telling........

Daryl said...

Hi Jeff,

I noticed there was a comment here saying that you're getting beat up on Facebook. You're mentioned on NextDoor as well. I provided a link that points to this blog. I'm trying to find out more about this issue myself. It's too bad that sides are forming on this issue. (Battle lines being drawn - as the song goes). In the meantime, us regular folks keep trying to keep our neighborhoods safer and every now and then we offer input where to spend a tiny part of the $400+ million/yr in the budget.