Deputy Mayor Asks to Reconsider Raises for City Commission
Voted Against Raises Proposed in July
Last updated 9/23/2020 at 12:59pm
Deputy Mayor Robin Gibson in July voted against raises for himself and his fellow commissioners, but he's apparently had a change of heart.
At the commission's Sept. 16 workshop Gibson asked for the issue to be reconsidered. Interim City Manager James Slaton quickly placed the item on the Sept. 23 agenda to meet a fast approaching deadline.
Commissioners have the power to raise their salaries, but any action must be at least six months prior to the city election. The window for the coming year closes this October, and any raises would take effect in May after the April 2021 election.
City Commissioner Curtis Gibson, who along with Commissioner Terrye Howell, also voted with the deputy mayor against the raises in July said he again will vote "no." He said while the commissioners deserve more compensation for the many extra meetings they now attend and their out-of-pocket costs, the timing just isn't right.
"Many people are hurting because of the pandemic. Many have lost jobs or are having a hard time paying their bills. It's just not right for us to give ourselves a raise at this time," he said.
Mayor Eugene Fultz and Commissioner Al Goldstein voted in July for raises, but the vote was 3-2 against.
Lake Wales commissioners at $4,817 and the mayor at $7,226 are among the lowest paid elected city officials in Polk County. Of similar sized cities only Auburndale pays its mayor less - $6,937, while paying its commissioners $5,934 – about $1,100 more than Lake Wales.
Slaton in July brought forward comparative salaries with other cities and a formula based upon the size of their annual budgets. The proposal would raise Lake Wales commissioner salaries to $6,323 and the mayor's salary to $9,485 - 50 percent higher than the commissioners as set by city ordinance. The raises would cost the city an extra $8,300 for the year.
Commissioners discussed possible raises a year ago, when finances were better, but City Manager Ken Fields missed the deadline to have it considered to put it into effect during 2020.