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"Florida airport tenants rally for big pay raise for manager, yet it was nixed by city"



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Airport tenants rally for big pay raise for manager, yet it was nixed by
city 
By Theresa Campbell
The Leesburg (FL) Daily Commercial


Leesburg International Airport Manager Leo Treggi said he was put in "a
very, very awkward position" after two airport tenants made a public
presentation to city commissioners this week, asking for him to be given a
higher salary of around $90,000 a year to be more in line with other top
city officials.
 
The request did not sit well with City Manager Al Minner or the board, who
voted against a pay raise or in changing the pay grade of the airport
manager position. Treggi's current pay is $54,500.
 
"I didn't ask for them to speak and I had nothing to do with it," Treggi
said of aviation executives Lee Webb's and Paul Harris's request for higher
pay for the airport manager position on behalf of 80 percent of the airport
lease holders.

"We believe that our current airport manager is a very good representative
of the city and airport matters, and we are concerned in the budget cycle
that maybe he is not being appropriately compensated," Webb said, pointing
to a display board that showed the airport manager salary at the bottom of
the chart.

The other 13 positions on the board listed higher salaries, including the
city's director of gas at $92,144, the city's director of human resources at
$105,384 and the city manager's salary at $145,000.

Webb said in comparing the airport manager salaries in other cities, Winter
Haven has budgeted to pay $88,000 for an open position, while its airport
does not have a control tower, customs or a fire department like the
Leesburg airport.

He also noted the local airport has 509 jobs, economic development activity
just under $64 million and a payroll of $17.6 million.

Webb asked the city commission to consider a salary range of from $85,000 to
$90,000 for Treggi to be consistent with other airport managers.

"We are asking the commissioners to appreciate where we are going and what
we are trying to do at the airport, and support a salary that is
commensurate with the activities and budget that is going on at the airport.
We believe it can be supported," Webb said.

Harris said at Treggi's current salary, it would be hard to replace him if
he leaves.

The aviators' salary request, which Minner and the commission first got wind
of more than a month ago during meetings with individuals and the airport
advisory board, turned into an hour-long debate.

"I am a little bit disappointed that this debate continues to go on," said
Minner, who noted that many of the higher-paying city officials have been in
their jobs for up to 20 years.

Mayor John Christian said he felt uncomfortable discussing Treggi in a
public forum.

"It sends a bad message to the rest of the people in the organization of
'Hey, go get a group together to come rally and say I'm great . Give me
$31,000 more because my people that I serve like me.' It causes a problem
for me, it causes a big problem for me, and I think you put Leo in a bad
spot. To me, this was a bad approach," Christian said.

Commissioner Jay Hurley said he realizes there is a chance Treggi could
leave Leesburg.

"If Leo can go get a job somewhere else making $120,000 and he only makes
$50,000 now, then he would be dumb not to. You never fault a man for
bettering himself and his family, and I applaud that," said Hurley, who also
chided the public forum as being inappropriate.

"If Leo leaves, we will manage that accordingly," Minner said. "And until
that time happens, we will move forward and if that does happen, I think we
have qualified staff, between myself and the new economic development
director (Mike Rankin) to keep us moving forward."

Treggi on Tuesday reflected on the debate.

"It was very, very awkward," he said. ".I have nothing to do with this. I
haven't asked them (airport lease holders to make request). They thought
that I deserved it and it made it very awkward for me, especially being in
public."

Treggi declined to discuss what is next for him.

"As far as if I am looking or being recruited at the moment, I would rather
keep that private," he said.

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