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Islamorada Community alliance

Advocacy For Residents, Education and Preservation



The Islamorada Community Alliance has an opinion about Tab 10 for Thursday, March 18, 2021 Council Meeting.  We are against it for myriad reasons.


Click here to read this agenda item. (This tab was pulled from the agenda - but the staff report is interesting and worth reading the justification for salary increases)

Why is the Village Council being asked to increase the salaries of 68 employees above what was in the budget approved last September for the current year?

Every year the Village has numerous budget workshops and public hearings to establish the budget. The 68 employees listed in Tab 10 all got a pay increase on the very first day of the current fiscal year October 1, 2020 which is equivalent to the cost of living increase of 1.5%.

Now a few months later. the Village Council is being asked to provide an additional, though unbudgeted, pay increase for these same employees. Residents had questioned the millage rate last September, and it appears now extra funds received from taxpayers are sufficient to cover staff raises rather than cover real infrastructure needs such as a SCADA device needed for wastewater - which serves residents. 

According to the staff report, the reason the staff believes a pay raise is warranted:

·       All staff members have had to adjust in one way or another to the work environment due to Covid-19, and many have had to gain new understandings and accept added responsibilities.

·       Uncertainty during those months while the former Village Manager, Seth Lawless, was on sick leave contributed to a more stressful work environment.

·       Due to the contentious nature of the Village Council election campaigns and the aftermath, Village staff has been adversely affected by the pervasive negativity and direct personal criticisms that have become a part of communications and social media messages.

ICA's perspective is: No question: 2020 was a very rough year – for all of us.

·       Our entire nation has had to go through many challenges as a result of Covid-19. Many lost their jobs and their pay. Some lost loved ones.

·       We have been led to believe the Village never missed a beat when Maria Bassett stepped in to run the show while Seth Lawless was on medical leave and then he was asked to leave, with Bassett continuing to fill in. 

·       A contentious election with pervasive negativity? Our entire nation should be getting pay increases if that is a valid reason to reward folks. 

Why is criticism viewed as something so stressful that someone requires more money? In the private sector, when a customer has a complaint, the company works to address and resolve the issue, not deny it and raise their prices. The proper approach would be to review complaints and work to remedy the situation.

It sure seems our staff is already well-paid. Did you know that there are 54 employees at the Village who each cost taxpayers over $75,000 per year?

According to Tab 10, the current Islamorada budget already includes more than $4.7 million in personnel costs for 68 employees that would get raises, not counting the $1 million taxpayers contribute for employees’ health, dental and vision insurance, and not counting the $3.9 million in salaries and benefits for Fire Rescue employees, and the contract for 16 law enforcement deputies. This salary increase will up costs another $92,260/year for these 68 employees.

The 2% pay increase is not a whole lot but guess who gets the biggest chunks:

·    Village Attorney would get an extra $3,107/year plus 37.63% of that increase added to his existing annual pension contribution of $58,459. He already gets $232,000 annually with his lobbying fee of $30,000, plus salary and benefits, which is equivalent to the annual salary and benefits Roman Gastesi, our County Manager, receives for overseeing services for 79,000 Keys residents.

·       Village Manager would get an extra $3,092/year plus 37.63% of that increase added to her existing annual pension contribution of $58,196.

Manager Lawless commissioned a salary and benefits comparison of areas like Islamorada and other Florida Keys municipalities as part of the Village Strategic Planning process for staffing recruitment and retention. The appropriate adjustments were just made in last year’s budget. So, why are increases being requested again?

This is the public’s opportunity to let the council know we are watching our tax dollars and the budget process. 

Send the council an email via for distribution to the entire council.

Watch the meeting on Zoom and raise your hand to speak during public comment.

Our vision

To enhance the community of Islamorada by preserving the quality of life of the residents as well as the beauty and vitality of the native ecosystems and to stop any further degradation of our community from over-development.

Mission statement

To provide the Islamorada residents with information about events occurring in our community that will impact our quality of life, preservation of our native ecosystems, land development, lawful and transparent governance.


Your tax deductible donations allows the ICA to keep you informed about important events that will impact and help protect our quality of life, our neighborhoods, property values and native ecosystems. Your donations make this possible and are most appreciated.

Contact Us

Islamorada Community Alliance

P.O. Box 1507

Tavernier, FL  33070-1507

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