When Joe DeCerbo addressed the Board of Supervisors of the Gateway Services Community Development District on June 18, 2015 he went to great lengths to explain that someone’s perspective is a result of their life experiences.

DeCerbo’s day job is District Manager of the Spring Lakes Improvement District, so from his perspective his life is easier when his Supervisors stay out of his way and let him do his job.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that DeCerbo’s main recommendation in his “Ordinary to Extraordinary” report was for Gateway’s board to get out of the GSCDD staff’s way and let them do their jobs.

The undated report was published by DeCerbo’s company which is apparently named Yellow Brick Road.

It was supposed to be a human resources audit, or a ‘Personnel Strategy’ as DeCerbo called it. However according to DeCerbo: “It was not possible to simply look at Personnel and disregard some of the organizational dysfunction that appears to be a part of Gateway. This dysfunction had a direct impact on the discussions that were conducted with both staff and Board. While there was definite acknowledgment of dysfunction, no specific plan was presented to rectify it.”

So DeCerbo took it upon himself to present a plan to rectify Gateway’s dysfunction.


To its credit, DeCerbo’s report did have staff-related recommendations such as getting less costly health insurance for the staff and hiring the Operations Manager as a GSCDD employee rather than having one provided by the district’s management company, Severn Trent.

The report also said that the GSCDD offices were totally inadequate, poorly located and listed multiple staff gripes about the office’s interior and working conditions. DeCerbo also says the GSCDD did not provide enough training opportunities for the staff.

But rather than propose any significant improvements or changes to Gateway’s human resources, DeCerbo simply suggested the GSCDD follow the staffing plan Severn Trent had already come up with in February 2015. So either DeCerbo feels the staffing set-up is just fine, or he wasn’t really interested in addressing it because he was more worried about the dysfunction he saw.

And DeCerbo made it perfectly clear that in his opinion the dysfunction comes from the top; from the Supervisors.

Apparently the Supervisors are far too involved in the district’s day to day operations.

DeCerbo also seems baffled that the GSCDD meets twice per month and officially recommended that the number of meetings gets reduced to one per month. He questioned whether some Gateway residents avoid becoming involved in GSCDD politics because it’s too time consuming. (An interesting point to make in a staff HR audit.)

Many items that the Supervisors discuss at board meetings should never even be brought up says DeCerbo. The staff should be handling many things on their own and simply reporting to the Supervisors that they took care of it instead of asking for direction first.

When DeCerbo was addressing the Supervisors at the June 18 meeting he said his report would be bold and require tough choices. While it seemed that meant a comprehensive plan to reshape the GSCDD’s staff would be coming forth, it turns out DeCerbo thinks the tough choice the Supervisors will have to make is whether or not to let go of their grip on the staff.

DeCerbo was hired specifically to do an HR audit, but he didn’t really deliver one.

Maybe I don’t understand human resources audits, but what I was expecting from DeCerbo were things like “for this job position, in this area of Florida, the pay should be $X and that person should be responsible for duties A, B and C” and “for the GSCDD’s goals you will need people in the following roles …”

What we got instead was DeCerbo’s personal assessment of Gateway’s problems and plenty of his opinions on how to fix them.

Without trying to be repetitive: why did DeCerbo feel the need – in an HR audit – to provide the GSCDD with guidance on which lobbyist to use in Tallahassee to improve our chances of obtaining state grants?

The report is filled with similar advice on non-HR topics ranging from developing a new web portal (DeCerbo has just the guy to build it) to writing a white paper that would help with justifying funding opportunities from government entities.

DeCerbo has identified some ways in which Gateway is dysfunctional, and on some days that’s not exactly difficult.

But unfortunately for Gateway and the $5,000 we spent on it … DeCerbo’s HR audit and report were pretty dysfunctional as well.

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

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