Shannon Shepp, executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus, will not receive a raise under a new contract approved Wednesday. The Florida Citrus Commission unanimously approved the deal, which alters Shepp’s severance package. The package initially would have given her the equivalent of 20 weeks’ pay if she was let go. Instead, Shepp will receive the equivalent of two weeks’ pay for each year she has been with the department, which has been forced to make budget cuts amid struggles in the citrus industry.
The severance change was requested by Shepp, said Kristie Hatcher-Bolin, the agency’s general counsel. Shepp, who makes $156,000 a year, has been with the agency since August 2013, joining as deputy executive director. She was named executive director in July 2015 following the resignation of Doug Ackerman. She has worked for the state since May 1998, including 12 years with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services before moving to the Department of Citrus.
The nine-member commission, appointed by Gov. Rick Scott, was advised by Hatcher-Bolin that the governor’s office didn’t have concerns with the contract nor “does it have any concerns about any ramifications that this contract might have beyond this agency.”
“I was told these decisions are made on an agency-by-agency basis,” Hatcher-Bolin told the commissioners.
The contract approval came as the agency is cutting spending by 22 percent. The citrus industry continues in a free fall as growers battle the deadly citrus greening disease. A year ago, the agency slashed 20 positions. The commission has agreed to increase staff by one this year, from 26 to 27 full-time positions through the addition of a registered dietitian who had previously been under contract with the agency.
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