We learned a few things from the January 21, 2016 meeting of the Board of Supervisors of the Gateway Services Community Development District. Most notably that Operations Manager Scott Connell will be leaving the GSCDD in about 3 weeks.
Yesterday’s regular Board meeting was preceded by a special 1-hour “workshop” session in which district staffing was discussed.
The Supervisors had plenty to talk about. Connell is actually the third senior staff member to move on, following Utility Director Ivan Velez and Fiscal Analyst Michelle Lambros out the door.
The level of turnover at the GSCDD recently is surprising. One Gateway blasted the Supervisors, stating, “When you ask questions of your staff, you don’t ask questions. You interrogate them. And maybe that’s why you need to keep replacing staff.”
Chairman William Guy offered this analysis: “First of all, Gateway Services CDD is the smallest organization that I have ever worked with. And it has the poorest history of any organization that I have ever worked with. And expecting huge improvements overnight is unrealistic.”
Guy has helped oversee the district for the past 5 years.
The Chairman also remarked that, “We have a Flint, Michigan type of operation here.”
Guy was likely making a reference to the perceived mismanagement occurring in the Michigan city.
Supervisor Gary Neubauer noted that, “a member of the [GSCDD] administration staff spends 70% of her time sitting in committee meetings. Doesn’t that seem skewed?”
“I think that could be addressed,” responded Supervisor Pamela Gill.
On the other hand, some saw the current situation as an opportunity.
District Manager Cal Teague made the case that with these all these high level departures from the GSCDD, the Supervisors could use the vacancies as a chance to restructure the staff to make it more efficient.
Neubauer made the case for involving an outsider to come in and take charge of the restructuring, specifically mentioning former GSCDD consultant Joe DeCerbo. Teague shot back that he had more experience than DeCerbo and was more than up to the task.
DeCerbo has won a “District Manager of the Year” award from the Florida Association of Special Districts, however Teague is far more familiar with Gateway and the community’s needs.
The Board recently voted 3-2 against re-hiring DeCerbo for a small 2-day consultancy project, so it seems likely that Teague will be the person who is given the opportunity to reshape the district’s staff.
As usual, the Supervisors delayed making any major decisions until the next Board meeting, which is scheduled to take place on February 4, 2016.