Gateway Sun

Back in June 2015 a human resources audit of the Gateway Services CDD staff was completed. The report was supposed to provide the necessary information to implement a re-organization of district staff.

I guess you could say it took a little longer than expected.

Tomorrow the Board of Supervisors of the GSCDD will finally be voting on a staff re-organization plan based on the specific recommendations of Joe DeCerbo – who is the current District Manager of the Spring Lakes Improvement District, which won the 2014 “District of the Year” award from the Florida Association of Special Districts. DeCerbo himself was named District Manager of the Year in 2012.

DeCerbo most recently consulted with Chairman Margaret Fineberg, Operations Manager April White and Utility Manager Chris Shoemaker in order to formulate his re-organization plan. However, DeCerbo has received plenty of input from current and former Supervisors over the past 18 months as well.

Since the re-organization plan was a team effort and clearly was a long time in the making, it would be surprising if any of the present board members voted against it tomorrow.

Here are the nuts and bolts of the GSCDD re-org:

- Top-level district management functions will be stripped from management company Severn Trent and brought “in house”.

- The GSCDD will now have three major departments including Utilities, Administration and Public Works.

- The new District Manager will shift from being a Severn Trent appointee to a GSCDD employee. Shoemaker will be promoted to District Manager by the Supervisors.

- White would be poached from Severn Trent by the district and her role would mostly remain the same. However, her title will change from Operations Manager to Business Manager.

- Shoemaker will then be tasked to hire a new Utility Manager along with a Public Works Manager as soon as possible.

That will make up the new top-level management structure of the GSCDD. And the good news is that with the reduced role Severn Trent will play, most of the costs of implementing this plan will come from restructuring the current $254,000 per year contract with Severn Trent.

Should Severn Trent want no part in having a reduced role in this re-organization, well, their contract expires in March 2017 anyway. Severn Trent will have to decide whether they’d like to be a short-term obstacle to the GSCDD or preserve this relationship for the future. It is entirely possible that Severn Trent will remain the district’s official accounting firm.

What do I think of the re-organization plan? I’m glad you asked.

In my opinion the Utility Manager is the GSCDD’s most important employee and I hate the thought of someone other than Chris Shoemaker filling that role right now.

The GSCDD was so lucky to find Chris in the first place to manage the utility that having Chris focusing on things like the Employee Handbook and annual staff evaluations seems to be a waste of his talents.

Promoting Shoemaker to District Manager seems counterproductive to the district’s needs. (Chris, if you’re reading this, I mean that as a compliment.)

But at least we all know that Gateway will have an extremely talented District Manager.

Over-all, the way they’re restructuring the district is pretty logical. And the key staff’s salary ranges look slightly on the low side, so anybody who wants to complain that the GSCDD staff are being overpaid would simply be out of touch with reality.

All of the district’s functions are assigned to one of the managers, so responsibilities are clearly defined and that should lead to accountability.

The only component of the plan I do not understand is the shifting of the current “Utility Supervisor” role from a full time district staff member to a part time consultant for 1 to 3 years. It seems clunky to me, and out of place with the rest of the plan. Hopefully one of the Supervisors will feel the same way and ask Fineberg to explain the thought process on that move. And I’m also sure there’s a perfectly good reason for it or else they wouldn’t have done it.

Bottom line? There really isn’t much for the residents to get upset about here.

We all know the GSCDD has plenty of problems and projects they are dealing with right now. Having the new staff and organization structure in place is probably the most important thing the Board of Supervisors will have accomplished in 2016.

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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