Town demands change in medical director contract

Dr. Steven Newman

Editor & Publisher

What has historically been a simple and straightforward contract renewal did not meet its usual fate at last week’s commission meeting.

Dr. Steven R. Newman’s contract to serve as the town’s medical director, a position in which he has performed since 1984 was up for a three-year renewal at an annual cost of $27,318. Newman’s position is to supervise and accept direct responsibility for the medical performance of all Longboat Key emergency medical technicians and paramedics. He sets medically correct protocols which allow basic and advanced life support procedures and he is on-call for medical direction 24 hours per day.

Newman in the three-year contract asked for a cost of living adjustment to be added to the base compensation in year two and three of the agreement only if such a COLA is awarded to the other town employees. That request proved troublesome for Mayor Jack Duncan and fellow commissioners who said they wanted specific amounts and not possible cost of living adjustments.

“I have a real problem with a contract consultant having COLA increases in it. This contract makes me feel like I’m talking to a fireman or a policeman; I prefer a fixed amount,” said Duncan.

Commissioner Lynn Larson agreed.

“I saw that and thought the same thing as well. I would move forward with a contract without COLA increases,” said Larson.

Longboat Key Fire Chief Paul Dezzi explained that Newman’s contract had historically been set up this way so he would not get a raise and only a raise equivalent to what the employees that he was supervising received. Dezzi added that no COLAs had been paid to the firefighters in years and therefore Newman did not receive an increase.

Newman performs the duties as medical director for Sarasota County, as well as the Airport Authority, and various other departments and this is how those contracts are set up, according to Dezzi.

Town Manager Dave Bullock told the commission that when the economy had slowed down several years ago, this was the medical director’s way of not asking for any increases.

The commission continued in telling Bullock and Dezzi that they did not like any COLA in a contractor’s agreement. After the meeting, on Sept. 22, Dezzi submitted a modified contract for three years that starts at the $27,318 but has a built-in increase of three percent bringing his compensation to $28,137 in the second year and another three percent to $28,981 in year three.

The contract with the built-in increases instead of the possibility of a COLA is now the only contract on the table and will be considered at a Sept. 28 special meeting.

If the commission had accepted Newman’s original contract and no COLA was given in the next three years, the total cost to the town would have been $81,954. The cost of the contract the commission will now consider with the built-in increases totals $84.436, an increase of $2,482.

Newman received the State EMS Raymond H. Alexander Medical Director of the Year Award for 2013. The award recognizes Medical Directors that are exceptional in their field and provide exceptional EMS service to the citizens of the community they serve.

Newman lives on Longboat Key, and has been the medical director for Sarasota County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for 30 years. He is a full-time, actively working, emergency medicine physician who is currently licensed in the State of Florida. He is presently board certified in Emergency Medicine and holds a faculty appointment as a Clinical Assistant Professor for Florida State University, School of Medicine, where he has had the responsibility for graduate medical education for the past 11 years.


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Longboat Key News

4 Responses for “Town demands change in medical director contract”

  1. LBK Resident says:

    It’s sad how the commissioners treat people. Most of them made an excellent living. When they were younger, they fought for the same things they are cutting for most of the employees for the Town. They think the employees should feel grateful to work on the beach. News Flash! They aren’t on the beach and their drive is longer than most people. The way they treat Fire/Police/General Employees will eventually bite back. This is one of the nicest communities and yet the commission treats us like we are from a poor city. I want our Town to be known for the best town employees and amenities. Our employees should be paid more than the surrounding areas so people WANT to work for us which brings us the BEST employees. Pay crap…and that’s what you will get…CRAP. Great job Commission for continuing to destroy Longboat Key because you are to cheap to pay an extra 30 dollars a year. You probably spend that alone on two drinks every night.

  2. Peter O'Connor says:

    I knew Dr. Newman during my time on the Commission.
    I recently met him again as a patient in the SMH ER.
    Again I was positively impressed, I thank him for his care.
    Thanks Doc.

  3. Jeff Goss says:

    I was insulted when I read the mayor say “it was like I was talking to a Fireman or Police man”. I feel sorry for the Firefighters on LBK. It was not this nasty and the town was proud of their Firefighters.

  4. lbk observer says:

    Here we go again. The Doctor who did a great job for thirty years asks for a modest increase and this commission has a problem with that? What about all the hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted every year on incompetent legal services and “phony” impact studies? Give me a break!

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