Saturday, May 06, 2017
Orlando City Council, Mayor, Vote to Raise Their Own Pay, Hide on Agenda
Orlando's sneaky manner of raises -- sound familiar? Lumped in with pay increase for City workers. Not fair. Should have been separate agenda item, with a separate recorded vote. Flori-DUH.
Orlando’s city commissioners and mayor quietly voted to raise their pay last month, including a 6.5 percent bump for commissioners and a 5 percent increase for Mayor Buddy Dyer.
The increases, which bring the annual salary for Orlando’s six city commissioners to $58,000 and the mayor’s to $186,306, were approved during the City Council’s March 20 meeting.
Commissioners Tony Ortiz and Robert Stuart voted against the increases, announcing their opposition prior to the vote but not giving their rationale. There was otherwise no discussion of the council raises during the meeting.
The raises were included within an agenda item increasing the wages of city employees represented by the Laborers International Union of North America and Service Employees International Union.
Government watchdog Doug Head said the raises seemed “modest and reasonable,” but should have been publicly debated separately from the union wages.
“I think that the public expects City Council salaries to be independently considered in an open forum, and that’s a reasonable expectation,” Head said.
Dyer said the raises were no secret. Normally, they would have been a part of the city’s budgeting process last fall, but he and the commissioners opted to wait until after the union raises were negotiated.
“I can’t think of any year, except one, that we’ve ever had any public debate relative to it,” he said.
Dyer was referring to 2013, when the council considered a 21-percent increase before opting to take only a 6 percent hike in the face of public criticism. The salaries of Orlando’s elected officials have grown by 2 percent each of the past two years, Dyer’s office said.
On Wednesday, Stuart said he has opposed raising the salary for commissioners because he doesn’t think the elected position should be compensated like a full-time job.
“I just have felt like the best role I play is to be that part-time commissioner, so I’m in the field, I’m in the community, having to make a living,” he said.
The union workers were given a pay bump ranging from 6.5 to 7.5 percent starting in January, followed by a 2.5 percent raise this October and again in October 2018, records show.