The City of Tallahassee’s comparatively high spending on state lobbying is being cited by lobbyists representing Leon County government as a justification for a pay raise.
Capitol Alliance Group has been the County’s state lobbyist since 2008 and is now seeking a $20,000 increase in their annual contract which expires in September. The current contract pays Capitol Alliance Group $50,000.
In the request submitted by Jeff Sharkey, the managing partner of Capitol Alliance Group, to Vince Long, the County Administrator, Mr. Sharkey writes about their lobbying successes and then speaks of the low fees the group has charged over the last three years in justifying an increase.
Mr. Sharkey offers support for his “low fee” argument by writing, “By comparison, we would note that the City’s legislative lobbying contract is more than two and half times the county’s contract amount.”
Mr. Sharkey seems to be correct in stating Capitol Alliance Group fees are lower.
In 2015 TR did a story comparing local government lobby fees. The comparison revealed that the fees paid by Leon County government were the lowest. The table is included below and the full report can be read here.
Current State Lobbying Expense
Number of State Lobbyists
|City of Tallahassee|
|City of Lakeland|
|City of Gainesville|
The City of Tallahassee pays $130,000 per year while Lakeland spends $56,580, Gainesville spends $60,000 and the City of Tallahassee’s sister government, Leon County, spends $50,000.
The issue is scheduled to be addressed at the Leon County Board of County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, May 24th.
The City of Tallahassee contract should not be used as a comparison because it is not an arm lengths transaction.
If I divide the city’s fee by the Pittman Factor and then subtract Crony Capitalism, it comes out with the same amount the county currently pays.
Exactly, the “Pittman Factor.”
Determining the value of governmental representation is relatively simple. What is it the county is expecting of the representation that cannot be achieved through the representation of the Association of County Commissioners? Is the county looking for special funding or approval of a certain project unique to the county? Is this special funding not supported by the local legislative delegation? Unless there is a specific or unusual need that can only be fulfilled by the legislature should the county even consider hiring outside representation. To hire legislative counsel because others do it and pay them what others pay them is the definition of herd mentality.
The question is not the expenditure, but the net return the lobbying generates, or saves the municipality.
Also keep in mind, effectiveness can & should only be evaluated over many cycles. Take for example, the abruptly ended session of two years ago. It stands to reason that net effectiveness would be low. It also takes many cycles to establish & cultivate relationships with leadership, and navigate political waters.
To Jeff Sharkey and Vince Long, please show where Capitol Alliance Group’s net product has improved, or could reasonably improve by 40% if the tax payers paid Capitol Alliance Group an increased professional fee?
Mr. Kirby – I agree with your statement completely. What better case to present to an client/employer for an increase/raise than to refer to past successes and relationships built that have added value to the services provided in excess of the fees/wages paid. Bringing the City’s expenses in for comparison makes sense as those involved in the decision making should also, to the extent possible, measure that the return on investment as well.
To frame the discussion, and the response as “see, someone else thinks the City spends too much, and now they’re setting the County up too…” is an oversimplification.