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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020 6 months ago

'Highly inappropriate': Post asks for more oversight on county employee pay raises by department heads

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The matter was brought up due to the fact that the former deputy attorney received a raise while owing $33,000 to the county.
by: Jarleene Almenas Associate Editor

Pay raises for Volusia County government employees will face more supervision moving forward, with County Manager George Recktenwald looking over future requests.

The added oversight is a result of the discovery that in December 2018, former Deputy Attorney Jamie Seaman received an $11,000 raise shortly after making an informal agreement to repay $33,000 of mistakenly provided cashed-out leave over the course of three years. Based on a leaked memo written by Volusia County Councilwoman Heather Post — which she emailed to all council members — Seaman agreed to bi-weekly payments of $434.78 to repay the debt; however, a raise equating about $376 bi-weekly was approved by former Human Resources Director Tom Motes and former County Attorney Dan Eckert. 

It's a situation that Post called "highly inappropriate" and one that the county needed to make sure was not repeated. She also asked that the county's auditor look into other possible instances.

“It’s not a matter of repayment," Post said. "It’s a matter of any director being able to point to point to anyone in their division and do that without any oversight or accountability.”

Seaman's salary was $180,250 at her time of resignation, with her final workday having been Jan. 31. Both Motes and Eckert had previously resigned as well. 

With all three gone, County Councilman Ben Johnson said it was time to put the issue to rest, as nothing done was illegal, and accept County Manager George Recktenwald's suggestion moving forward to disallow raises for employees who owe money to the county. 

“We are a policy group," Johnson said. "We cannot get down in the weeds of how people act and what they do in reference to the county and their division.”

Interim County Attorney Michael Dyer, who received a 5% salary increase earlier in the meeting, said county personnel rules state any employee pay adjustments would require approval by the HR manager. The council hopes Recktenwald's added supervision will prevent another situation like Seaman's to happen. 

Recktenwald said he wouldn't have approved her pay increase.

“I think the timing was terrible," he said.

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