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Pinellas Park official quitting over pay

Communications director Melanie Hasburgh says she was stuck in terms of income and advancement.

By ANNE LINDBERG

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 3, 2000


PINELLAS PARK -- The city government will lose one of its most high-profile women employees when Melanie Hasburgh leaves later this month.

Pay issues triggered Hasburgh's decision to leave her job as Pinellas Park's communications director, which included acting as city spokesperson, overseeing the government's newsletters and television channel and planning events, such as the popular Country in the Park.

An independent salary survey completed two years ago indicated Hasburgh was being paid more than other workers in similar positions in other cities. The effect was to lock her into one salary range and job classification, denying her a chance for advancement, according to her resignation letter.

The effect of that outweighed the personal pride she received from her accomplishments, she wrote.

"It is also important to be fairly compensated for my work and given an opportunity for advancement," Hasburgh wrote. "Unfortunately, based on the recent analysis from the personnel consultant, there will be no changes forthcoming to my salary range or classification."

Pinellas Park was paying her $40,200. Hasburgh, 44, will earn $43,000 in her new job as public information coordinator in the city of Clearwater's Parks and Recreation Department.

Her last day of work will be Dec. 15, although her resignation is not effective until Dec. 26.

"She's done a great job for the city and we hate to lose her," said Jerry Mudd, Pinellas Park city manager. "Miss Hasburgh has done a wonderful job for the city, especially in terms of community events. I believe she has helped take us into the future in that area."

The city manager defended the salary study that set Hasburgh's pay level and ultimately caused her to leave after 10 years with the city. He conceded that in some cases city officials ignored the study's results and gave large pay raises. That was particularly true for employees in the Management Information Systems, or computer services, department.

"Two years ago we were in a critical situation regarding MIS," Mudd said. "We were in a situation where we were losing employees."

At the time, Pinellas Park was faced by the impending Y2K changeover, he said. Hiring an outside firm would have cost more than giving the raises, Mudd said.

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