Citizens to Vote on Pay Raise for Elected Officials
By: Veronica Haggar and Casey Westfall
The Boca Raton City Council voted 4 to 1 in favor of a referendum that will give voters the right to decide if a pay raise should be given to the mayor and councilors of the city.
Currently, the mayor earns $9,200 annually, while city council members earn $7,200 annually.
However if the amendment earns enough votes, their salaries will be linked to those of Palm Beach County Commissioners.
Under the proposed legislation, the mayor will earn $38,355 annually, which is 40% of a Commissioner’s salary, while city council members will earn $28,776 annually, which is 30% of a Commissioner’s salary.
James Hendry, a citizen of Boca Raton who was present at the meeting, voiced opposition to the measure. Mr. Hendry stated that even though the council’s job is very important, and that it is important to get more citizens involved in city politics, August would not be the best time to hold the vote, since many people will not be in the city at the time.
The issue of when the vote will be held was brought up by council members Scott Singer, who was the only council member to vote against the amendment, as he suggested the pay raise proposal should be started by residents as “the best way to see if it truly has support,” and Robert Weinroth, who proposed changing the effective date from October 1, 2016, to April 1, 2017, but his proposal failed.
“Since 2004, voters have twice rejected pay raises for council members,” said City Council member, Scott Singer, during Tuesday’s meeting.
The vote is set to be on the ballot in August’s primaries and if it passes, the pay raise would begin in October.
If the ballot passes,, it would be the first time decades that the city’s elected officials would have a pay raise.
“I think everyone up here serves on other boards, whether it be on the county or state level, and that’s not doing work for the state, that’s doing work that helps the citizens back here in Boca,” said City Council member, Jeremy Rogers.
The Council believes that a pay raise would also motivate citizens to run for office and increase competition between candidates for the future elections.
“This is a position that demands a higher compensation,” said Robert S. Weinroth, deputy mayor. “It demands a higher compensation to attract more people from the city, who feel that they can run for this position and it’s not going to be a hardship.”
“Even though the role of the council members is anything but part-time and our compensation os probably below minimum wage on an hourly basis, I cannot support this measurement as it stands,” said Singer. “I continue to think that a charter amendment to increase salaries should start organically with the residents.”