Tuesday, the City Council will vote on whether members will continue to get automatic pay raises.
There seems to be some reluctance on the part of council members to give up this perk.
Sponsor Rory Diamond thinks he has nine votes. It takes 10 to pass.
He said he had 10, but one member flipped on him.
Diamond named his bill the NOPE bill, for “No Obligatory Pay Enlargement.”
Currently, council members have their salary tied to a state law that automatically increases salaries.
Diamond’s bill would require the council to hold a public hearing and then vote on any change in their compensation.
Council members get $52,276.56 a year. The president gets an additional amount.
They have the option of declining the automatic raise. The last raise was 4 percent.
But salaries are not the whole story.
The salaries budget for City Council members is $974,694. In addition they get pension contributions of $372,687, plus employer provided benefits (such as healthcare, dental, etc) of $208,485.
One amendment tacked onto the bill by the Finance Committee basically guts the bill, and keeps everything the same except that there will be a note on the city’s web site listing whether a council member accepted a raise or not.
Diamond is a Republican. He has one Democrat on his side. The Republican members of the council not yet on board are Matt Carlucci, Randy DeFoor, Terrance Freeman, Aaron Bowman, and Michael Boylan.
Dominic M. Calabro, president of Florida TaxWatch said TaxWatch is not in favor of automatic raises.
“While Florida TaxWatch is not taking an official position on salary increases for Jacksonville City Council members, we firmly believe such raises for elected leaders should not be automatically received, as it facilitates personal gain without public notice or input. These are hard-earned taxpayer dollars, and taxpayers should be given the opportunity to voice their concerns and ask questions through an open and transparent process that promotes both responsibility and accountability,” he said.
Politicians in the legislative branch at any level of government already have the enviable position of being able to grant themselves a pay raise at will. To have it done automatically is especially galling.
While it is understandable that they don’t want to have to cast a public vote, they should be able to man up – or person up – and push the button when the time comes.
It will be interesting to see if one more council member can find the intestinal fortitude before Tuesday.