Gateway Sun

The Gateway Services Community Development District currently plans to spend $774,000 on is staffing plan for fiscal 2016, but Joe DeCerbo and his ideas could change everything.

DeCerbo is the District Manager for Spring Lake Improvement District in Sebring, Florida, and he’s also the consultant who was hired by the GSCDD to perform a human resources audit. His report has now been delivered to Gateway’s Board of Supervisors who will hold a special meeting on July 9, 2015 at 1:00pm to discuss DeCerbo’s recommendations.

In 2012 and 2014 the Florida Association of Special Districts awarded Spring Lake its District Of The Year awards. In 2012, DeCerbo was the FASD’s District Manager Of The Year.

The GSCDD Supervisors are not bound by any of DeCerbo’s recommendations, but DeCerbo says the work he did for Gateway was some of the best he’s ever done. Never in his career has he looked at a district’s issues and made more than 12 recommendations, but in Gateway’s case he says he made 25.

We will be trying to get our hands on DeCerbo’s report in advance of the July 9 meeting.

Amid all the new-found public scrutiny, the GSCDD Supervisors seem to be waking up to the idea that changes are needed. The GSCDD staff, who would be most affected by DeCerbo’s report, are slowly coming around as well. We’re told that when asked to brainstorm ideas to cut costs in their own departments the staff recommended (on their own) that their Cost Of Living Allowance increase be cut in half.

The original COLA increase was going to cost the residents $24,207 in FY2016, but now it will only cost $12,103. It’s a small victory for the residents, but one that should not go unnoticed.

At the June 18, 2015 GSCDD meeting DeCerbo described Gateway’s situation as being very much like Spring Lakes back in 2007. DeCerbo said that Spring Lakes’ Supervisors needed to acknowledge that “we are out of control” and when he examined his district’s problems DeCerbo said “I found more snakes under every rock that I turned over.”

DeCerbo pointed out that by tackling the problems eight years ago his district was able to turn itself completely around. It sounds like it wasn’t easy and tough choices needed to be made, but DeCerbo says it’s paid off for his community.

It’s difficult to disagree with DeCerbo given that Spring Lakes is the reigning “District Of The Year” in Florida.

DeCerbo said he has offered a comprehensive plan for Gateway’s future based on his experience and expertise, including a new staffing plan. It will be interesting to see if the GSCDD Supervisors feel as though DeCerbo’s recommendations are a good fit for Gateway, and whether the board has the stomach to attempt what could be some very bold changes.

The July 9 meeting at 1:00pm will take place at the GSCDD offices located at 13240 Griffin Drive, and is open to the public.

DeCerbo was paid $5,000 by the GSCDD for his work.

About Jeff Kuntz

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Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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