The Coastal Star’s Jan. 3 article on holiday bonuses for municipal employees, “Thanks! Holiday bonus traditions vary,” was comprehensive and informative.
However, like most issues involving public expenditures, this topic is more complex than it seems. The Coastal Star correctly reported my vote against bonuses as a stand-alone dissent, based on my concern about the town of Ocean Ridge’s fiscal obligation “to stick to its budget.” Not reported was my expressed concern that extra employee compensation was being awarded in the absence of employee performance evaluations. Florida law requires that lump sum bonuses only be awarded based upon employee work performance that exceeds established standards.
I raised this specific point at the December Town Commission meeting because Ocean Ridge has no established performance standards, nor any employee evaluation program. In fact, Florida law prohibits after-the-fact “extra compensation” unless there is a municipal ordinance that specifically provides for it. Ocean Ridge has no such authorizing ordinance.
The article did not mention whether any of the towns considered these legal requirements. Ocean Ridge did not.
It should be obvious that expenditure of taxpayer funds must always be in compliance with state statutes.
At the February commission meeting, I initiated an action, adopted by the full commission, directing the town attorney to draft an employee bonus ordinance. The ordinance, plus an employee evaluation program, will ensure that future bonuses stand on firm legal ground.
Ocean Ridge Town Commissioner