AVON PARK - His 2013-14 report card: three As and a B.
It isn't required by the city, but since Avon Park's city manager asks for city supervisors and department heads to conduct employee evaluations on their staffs, Julian Deleon thought it was only fair the city council grade him on his job performance.
Deleon was hired by the city to the position after former manager Bruce Behrens was fired for alleged organizational mismanagement March 14, 2011. Prior to Deleon's work as manager, he was the city's public works director beginning in 2009.
In evaluations released by the city Thursday, four of five of Deleon's colleagues gave the Cuban native 80 and 90 percentile ratings. Councilman Garrett Anderson's evaluation had not been provided as of Friday.
Anderson claimed ethics violations by Deleon and filed a complaint with State of Florida Commission on Ethics March 8, 2013. Florida's Division of Administrative Hearings in Tallahassee has set 9 a.m., March 11 to 13 in the Avon Park City Council Chambers for the hearing.
Calls by Highlands Today to Anderson regarding the evaluations weren't returned by deadline Friday.
From his City Hall office Friday, Deleon said his contract with the city expires in October and the job evaluation - the last conducted in 2012 - is a "needed tool for the Council to determine how we move forward."
"I am very pleased with the evaluation results; I also appreciate the feedback and criticism. We have repeatedly delivered results. I have been 'tested' here in Avon Park, we have a strong track record for performance," he said. "Some of our decisions have been controversial. I have repeatedly stuck my neck out, and recommended what I deem is in the city's best interest."
Deleon said among the accomplishments over the past two years since his last evaluation, some of the ones that stand out include passing a balanced budget with a 95 percent tax reduction in the city's ad-valorem taxable rate; acquiring over $2.2 million in grant funds; reducing garbage rates 20 percent; liquidating over $7 million in debt and making the city debt-free; annexing two square miles and over 600 residences; and accruing an emergency fund balance over $4 million beyond the industry norm of 2.5 months of the operating budget.
"In 2009, the city's auditor stated that we had difficulty paying our monthly bills. I am very fortunate to have a strong city council that understood the need to change things around. We have done exactly that; the city is growing, the finances are stable, the core services are still delivered," he said.
Deleon was graded on policy facilitation, service delivery management, self-mastery, personal development, organizational planning and management, interpersonal characteristics and skills, integrity, organizational values, staff effectiveness, strategic leadership and communication,
Turning in 2013-14 evaluations and a overall grade for Deleon were Mayor Sharon Schuler, 94 percent; Deputy Mayor Brenda Giles, 98 percent; Councilman Terry Heston, 97 percent; and Councilman Parke Sutherland, 82 percent.
In her written evaluation, Schuler said Deleon is always looking for cost-saving measures and revenue-increasing strategies.
"The job performance that Julian has demonstrated has managed to make the City of Avon Park debt free while cutting the cost to the citizens at large," she wrote. "The money the city has been able to save can only be attributed to his ability to think outside of the box."
In his evaluation, Sutherland, who gave Deleon the lowest grade, wrote Deleon "Exceeds expectations with higher level decisions in furtherance of council's announced policies and objectives."
Although his review was far above average, Deleon's tenure with the city hasn't been without controversy. In addition to the complaints by Anderson, lawsuits are still pending that were filed by city employees dealing with terminations in 2012 and late 2013.
Deleon said he has always maintained a personal strong ethical focus and tries to make the right decisions, even if some of those may be detrimental to the professional lives of those affected.
Deleon said he hopes to maintain his working relationship with city when his contract comes up for renewal. He said he plans to focus on quality-of-life improvements focusing on the restoration of public infrastructure, including lighting, sidewalks and streets.