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Wilton Manors, Fla., Officials Give Themselves Raises

The Broward County city’s mayor and commissioners voted unanimously on Aug. 23 to give themselves raises, increasing the mayor’s and commissioners’ salaries by 166 percent and 156 percent, respectively.

(TNS) — Many of us think we aren’t paid nearly enough for what we do.

You can include the Wilton Manors, Fla., mayor and commission, who have groused that their salaries rank toward the bottom of Broward County’s 31 cities.

So on Tuesday night, they voted 5-0 to give themselves a raise. The mayor’s annual pay will rise from $11,250 to $30,000 — a 166 percent increase — and the commissioners’ pay will go from $9,750 to $25,000 — a 156 percent increase.

The pay hike, which requires a second commission vote on Sept. 13, will take effect on Oct. 1. Future salary increases will be automatic, equaling the cost-of-living raises bestowed on non-union employees.

At least one of the city’s former elected officials thinks the raises are over the top for a small town like Wilton Manors, home to an estimated 12,500 residents.

“I think it’s excessive,” said John Fiore, a longtime resident and former mayor. “I have no problem with them raising it $3,000. They do work hard. But a 150 percent increase is excessive.”

Fiore thinks the town’s population size should dictate what it pays its elected officials. But that is not always the case, especially in Broward County.

Pembroke Park (population 6,700) pays its mayor and commission a whopping $42,000.

Davie (population 106,000) pays its mayor and council a humble $11,509.

Fort Lauderdale (the largest city in the county with a population of 182,000) used to pay its mayor $35,000 and its commissioners $30,000. That changed in January 2021, when the mayor’s salary rose to $78,840, a 125 percent increase, and commissioners saw their pay jump to $65,700, a 119 percent increase.

No Rhyme, No Reason

A recent survey by city staff shows the average salary for a mayor in Broward is $35,790 and the average salary for a commissioner is $27,064.

That puts Wilton Manors toward the bottom of the pay scale.

Still, five cities in Broward County pay their elected officials even less: Lauderdale Lakes ($11,000 for the mayor and $9,000 for the commission, with a population of 36,000); West Park ($4,800 for the mayor and $3,600 for the commission, with a population of 15,000); Hillsboro Beach ($3,900 for the mayor and $1,800 for the commission, with a population of 2,000).

And at the very bottom sit Lazy Lake (home to 33 residents) and Sea Ranch Lakes (home to 540), where elected officials aren’t paid a dime.

Boyd Corbin, a Wilton Manors resident making his fourth run for mayor in the city’s November elections, was critical of the pay hike.

“Cha-ching,” he said. “They’re voting themselves a raise. It just looks like pure greed to me. I’ll be mayor for free. I’m not doing it for the money.”

The raises will cost the city $131,308 a year, including pension contributions and federal taxes ( Social Security and Medicare tax on earnings).

The last time the mayor and commission in Wilton Manors got a raise was in 2015.

‘You Out of Your Mind?’

Mayor Scott Newton defended the raises, saying the entire commission has been underpaid for years.

“We’d still be just below mid-range,” Newton told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “A lot of commissioners have assistants to help them get things done. And a lot of them have monthly stipends. We don’t have that.”

Newton, who owns an upholstery shop, says he and his colleagues all put in a good amount of time for their part-time gig.

As mayor, Newton estimates he puts in at least 40 hours a week during budget season and 25 hours a week during slower times of the year.

“It’s a seven-day-a-week job,” he said. “If you spend a year in my shoes you’ll see how many hours I put in. This is not an easy job. Some people have asked me, ‘How are you doing that for $12,000? Are you out of your mind?’”

Jake Valentine, one of the town’s more outspoken residents, thinks the commission should be paid $15,000 and the mayor $20,000.

“I don’t begrudge them the money, but you don’t triple your pay,” he said. “I know they have a tough job. I know what they go through. I’m one of the people who calls them at 4 in the morning if something is happening. But they signed up for this. It’s a bad look. You don’t take this job for the money. You take this job to serve the community.”

©2022 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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