You Paid For It: Pinellas County temp workers raking in big paychecks

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Two Pinellas County government construction managers who retired through the state’s DROP program with full benefits immediately returned as “temp workers” through a manpower agency for a whopping pay increase.

“If we need to hire somebody on a temporary basis, it shouldn’t be that person who just left the day before,” said Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers.

Under state law, local governments are prohibited from re-hiring DROP retires for a year-long period. But there is no ban on hiring those same workers who re-enter the county through the side door as temporary contract workers.

“The spirit [of the law] and the legal side should be one and the same,” Eggers said.

Architect Thomas Borawski earned $122,000 a year when he retired last September. He’s now costing taxpayers $249,475 a year through the temp agency and he’s also collecting a full retirement pension.

Mark Pistillo earned $81,681 a year when he retired through the DROP program in 2011. He’s been back on the job in Pinellas County’s Real Estate division ever since as a “temp” worker, who is costing taxpayers $134,174 annually based on his 35 hour work week.

“That does not make any sense,” said Pinellas Commissioner Davie Eggers. “We’re paying a premium above what we were paying that employee before they left.”

Pinellas Human Resources Director Holly Schoenherr is in charge of managing the contract with Randstad, the county’s temp agency, but insists she has no authority over who gets hired and for how much, because that’s negotiated between county department managers and Randstad.

“We can’t tell them ‘yes, you can do it’ ‘no you can’t,” Schoenherr said.  Randstad currently supplies 130 temp workers under a recently revised $16 million contract with the county.

In a strange twist of local government, Schoenherr’s HR department does not report to Pinellas County Administrator Mark Woodard. Her HR duties are overseen by the Unified Personnel System Board.

Woodard tells 8 On Your Side he only recently became aware that Borawski, Pistillo and at least two other county retirees were collecting sizable paychecks as temp workers.

Schoenherr insists she sends monthly reports on 130 temp workers and their salaries to county administration but isn’t sure who reads them.

“I don’t know why they would not know about it,” Schoenherr said.

Woodard tells 8 On Your Side he ordered Randstad to discontinue the services of Borawski the same day we started raising questions.

“What happened is appropriate and I dealt with that,” Woodard said.

Woodard explained that Borawski had been asked in September to stay on when his replacement suddenly quit two weeks before Boraski’s retirement. But the deal Borawski leveraged for an $88 an hour pay rate ($120 per hour charged by Randstad) amounted to a 150 percent increase in his prior pay.

Woodard is now reviewing whether it is appropriate to keep paying Pistillo $55 an hour ($73.72 paid to Randstad) after six years as a temporary worker. Woodard says he expects more control from HR and his own staff in the County Administrator’s Office

“I want more oversight by them,” Woodard said. “I want it clear with my chain of command what operations and expectations are.”

Last month, Pinellas County Commissioners extended Randstad’s temp services contract until March while Schoenherr negotiates with another company, Personell Solutions Plus, for the next temp contract.

She insists it will have tighter controls over who gets paid what.

“HR should provide greater oversight in holding the vendor accountable and doing the right thing,” Schoenherr said.

Pinellas County commissioners, who last month expressed concern that temp workers might not be earning a livable wage of $12.50 an hour, will likely be paying close attention this time around to the high end of that temp worker payroll.

“I certainly will ask some questions,” Eggers said.

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