Coral Gables commissioners were unhappy to learn Tuesday that former City Manager Pat Salerno gave last-minute raises to half a dozen city employees before his resignation took effect last week.
Before his resignation became effective at 5 p.m. April 18, Salerno conducted evaluations for seven people who work in the manager’s office, many with evaluations that should have been done last summer and fall. They received merit raises of 2.5 percent and in some cases, 4 percent for exceptional performance.
According to the city’s personnel regulations, employees are entitled to annual evaluations that can come with raises, depending on their evaluation score. The employee can receive raises up to the point that they reach the maximum salary in their pay range.
The eleventh-hour move left city commissioners miffed, and the issue was raised at Tuesday’s meeting.
“I hate the way it was carried out,” said Commissioner Frank Quesada.
Vice Mayor Bill Kerdyk Jr. echoed Quesda and the other commissioners, saying the raises didn’t bother him so much as the timing.
“It pains us all how this was handled,” he said, adding that although the move may irk the commission, individual employee salaries are not an area directly governed by commissioners.
Elsa Jaramillo-Perez, the city’s human resources director, told the commission Salerno had followed all city regulations while conducting evaluations for employees who worked in his office and had not already reached their maximum salary.
Salerno told the Miami Herald on Tuesday he had been informed by human resources in his last few days that he owed evaluations to four employees eligible for raises and one who was could not get a raise due to having recently been hired. Two other employees directly asked him for evaluations.
He said it would have been unfair to the employees to not evaluate them because he was their outgoing supervisor and only he could give them what was they were owed.
“If I did not do it, I would have left them in limbo,” he said.
Commissioners wondered about other city employees who were in the same position who did not get evaluated, but Salerno noted that he handled the employees in his office that he was notified about, and each department director signs off on his or her own employees’ evaluations.
“They don’t come to me,” he said. “HR is the one who stays on top of [directors] to make sure that they’re doing their evaluations.”