At the May 2, 2017 Gulfport City Council meeting, I voted no on the proposed compensation increases for City Council Members and the Mayor. Our discussion followed a recommendation by the Mayor, at the April 18, 2017 City Council meeting, for a compensation increases from from $750.00 to $2,000 monthly for City Council Members, and $1,000 to $2,500 monthly for Mayor. Inclusion in the city's health care benefits program, and access to a deferred payment pension plan, was also proposed. A 3-2 vote (I was one of the two no votes) sent the following Ordinance recommendation to the May 2, 2017 City Council meeting:
A proposed compensation of $2000.00 monthly for the Mayor, and $1,500.00 monthly for Gulfport City Council Members; and
Addition of health insurance coverage and participation in the City’s deferred compensation program.
At the May 2, 2017 Gulfport City Council meeting, many concerned residents provided thoughtful comments for and and against the proposed compensation increases. To support my position against the compensation increase at this time, I shared my findings from a survey of City Clerks from various cities, as well as data from municode (database of Ordinances used by cities in Florida). Please see images below. I summarized the following as the action I recommend:
Bottom line, Gulfport's current stipend is already second highest when compared to other cities in our region (cities in the table above belong to the Suncoast League of Cities). Many are similar to us in size, scope and amount of work. In addition, the Gulfport City Council already realized a compensation increase in October 2014. Therefore, I recommend(ed) we:
Table the increase until FY 2019 (a five year interval from the last increase), taking the time to officially collect comparative data and better define the attributes justifying an increase (no more than 3-5%).
Adopt what many other cities throughout Florida already do, which is to make any compensation increase effective after the commencement of the term of Council Members elected at the following regular election (meaning, not applicable to currently seated members voting on the compensation increase).
City Council Members serve only for two years (Mayor for three), with the option to run again. It is a voluntary community service opportunity that comes with a stipend clearly known prior to us running for the office. Serving on City Council is not employment subject to all the parameters afforded and required of City employees. We should not begin to blur the lines.