INSET BELOW: Costello

By Jane Smith

    The new head of Delray Beach’s Community Redevelopment Agency will receive a slightly more than 18 percent salary increase over his previous salary as the agency’s assistant director.
    The CRA board approved that salary of $132,893 for Jeff Costello at its Jan. 8 meeting by a 4-2 vote. Board Chairman Herman Stevens and board member Cathy Balestriere voted no. Board member Angela Gray was absent.
    “Jeff is my man,” Stevens said after the meeting. “I thought it should have been more.”
    Balestriere could not be reached for comment. At the meeting, she said Costello deserved about $140,000 because he knows the staff, has years of experience and saved the board money by not having to search for a new executive.
7960554100?profile=original    In December, a 5 percent salary increase was discussed when Costello was approved to replace longtime executive director Diane Colonna. In that position, she made $136,202.70. She left the agency Jan. 2; Costello took over on Jan. 5, the next work day.
    Costello presented backup information to the board at its Jan. 8 meeting that said as the assistant director he would have been eligible for a March merit raise of 2.5 percent, as the director he will not be eligible for a pay increase until January 2016. “Therefore, a 5 percent salary increase is essentially a 2.5 percent increase,” he wrote.
    He included a chart that listed executive director salary, acreage, staff and budgets for agencies in three other cities (Boynton Beach, Lake Worth and Riviera Beach) and for Delray Beach.
    Costello asked for a salary comparable to Lake Worth’s CRA executive director and received it. Lake Worth’s agency has 517 acres in its borders, has a staff of three and a budget of $1.68 million, according to the information given to the Delray Beach board members. The Delray CRA has 1,961 acres, a staff of 12 and a budget of $25.7 million.
    The board members want to review Costello in six months as well as at the beginning of the financial year in October.
    Also at that meeting, board members decided they want a 2015 goal setting workshop, but not like last year’s when former CRA executive director Chris Brown was the facilitator. Board members did not want a facilitator because they are not shy about voicing opinions and disliked the ranking method (low, medium or high) of each goal.
    Costello reserved space for that session on Feb. 25 at the Delray Center for the Arts. He will take that meeting date to the board this month for its approval. According to a November update of 2014 goals, West Atlantic Avenue, North Federal Highway redevelopment and the Downtown Development Association’s marketing plans will likely be on the agenda. Ú

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