My local government has a lesson for all of us in how to get things done. No, I am not talking about better roads, schools or lower crime and traffic. I am talking about giving the Mayor a raise, and creating a new Chief of Staff position within the Mayor's office. You know the staff of two people, one of which is the Mayor himself.
Days after the re-election of our Mayor, in a landslide victory, an Ordinance was submitted for approval for an adjustment to an existing Ordinance of compensation for City employees.
It does not say anything about the increase for the Mayor. Instead it is cloaked in the verbiage of an Ordinance that would require the citizen to go to see the City Clerk to decode what it says. Within the document is the new salary for the Mayor, which includes an increase of at least $30,000. From $73,000 to a minimum of $103,000. An increase approaching 40%. Forty percent! Really? And a part-time Chief of Staff for $45,000 to work for the Mayor and supervise his staff of one secretary.
So while the State of Florida was still counting votes for the umpteenth time, a City Council member crafted, reviewed, and submitted an Ordinance giving an elected official a 40% percent wage increase, and it passed for further consideration. Talk about efficiency.
The senior citizens of the City of Linden will be given a 2.8% increase with their Social Security for 2019. The Police, Fire and Public Works departments may see a 1-3% increase in their pay, and the rest of the City employees may see a 1 or 2% increase in theirs, but the Mayor gets 40%. Now the other City employees may have gotten incremental increases over the first four years of the Mayor's first term, whereas the Mayor has not. But still, $30,000 AND a helper for $45,000?
I really don't have an issue giving the Mayor a raise. What I do take issue with is the audacity to push forth such an absurd increase days after re-election. The Mayor knew what the job pays. He has been collecting it for four years already, so there is no surprise. Yes, he is a full-time Mayor, and like his Council Members, his day does not end at 5 o'clock, in some cases, it may just be beginning.
Last year the Mayor touted the reduction in Property Taxes throughout his campaign. It is accurate, our City taxes were reduced. Not the County, not the Board of Education, just the City. Exactly how much were our property taxes reduced? $12.87. We still get to pay the other $9600.00. He also celebrated the repeal of the $120.00 garbage fee. Well, if you lose the fee, where is the rest of the $120.00? So for 2018 and 2019 we will still see a tax increase, not decrease, and it must be said, the Mayor cannot control what the County or Board of Education can and have done.
So yes, the Mayor can be given a raise. But it shouldn't be anymore than any other City employee. He can align himself with the Police, Fire or Public Works. He could even ask someone to craft an Ordinance to give increases equal to the Social Security COLA for himself and the next Mayor, but in NO scenario is he, or any other City employee EVER eligible for a 40% increase.
Counting on citizen apathy may be a way to get it done, but it spits in the face of those you take the oath to represent in an honest and transparent way. Placing the onus on the citizen to ask for both the new and the old schedules from the Clerk is an unnecessary burden.
What if the Ordinance synopsis stated 'An Ordinance to amend the Ordinance that will grant an increase for the Mayor of between 40 and 45% increase in salary'. That would be transparent, but, alas, would never happen. It is hidden in the obscurity of vagueness. Legal, I'm sure, but lacking in transparency.
Now, if only this expediency and efficiency could be applied into other, more serious issues facing the City, you may be on to something.