Boca council to ask voters to quadruple salary

Posted at 3:00 PM, Jan 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-27 09:52:18-05

Boca Raton city council members voted 4-1 Tuesday evening to as their bosses, the citizens, for a pay raise.

At tonight's city council meeting, the mayor and council members voted to move forward with a plan asking for about quadruple their current salaries. City ordinance says any salary increase needs to be approved by voters so a referendum will be placed on August's ballot.

The proposal links city salaries to salaries of Palm Beach County commissioners.

The mayor currently makes $9,200 annually. Under the proposal, the position will receive 40% of a Palm Beach County commissioner's salary, or $38,355 annually.

The four city council members earn $7,200 annually. This proposal will increase their pay to $28,776 per year, or 30% of a county commissioner's salary.

The salaries would increase or decrease depending on how the county commissioners' salaries change.

Council members decided tonight to put the issue on the ballot this August, during the presidential primary election.

If voters approve the salary hike, it will take effect October 1, 2016.

Boca city council members had not had a salary increase since 1984.

The next municipal election for city council members in Boca Raton is March 2017.

James Hendrey has called Boca Raton home for more than 30 years. He's become a regular at the city council meetings, including the one where he suggested city leaders give themselves a raise.

"We think they deserve an opportunity to make more money than they're making now in their salaries, which are painfully small, given the responsibility they have," he explains.

But now, as he walks through a constantly growing downtown, Hendrey is having second thoughts.

"We don't want to increase their salaries for bad behavior. And up to this point they've really have performed badly," he says comparing the issue to a corporate scenario, where a raise is based on performance.

He thinks this group of council members has been too friendly to developers, instead of the voters. He'd rather see the salary increase come in when new council members do. He also suggests having citizens vote on the issue in March 2017, when the city has a municipal election.

"Everyone I've spoken to believes they are underpaid, that's for sure. Not everyone is happy with what's been happening in the city," points out longtime Boca Raton resident Lenore Wachtel.

She hopes a salary increase would bring fresh faces to the arena with new ideas.

"If it pays decently, more people will be willing to spend the time takes to do the job well," she opines.