DADE CITY — City commissioners gave final approval Tuesday evening to an ordinance that triples their pay and boosts the mayor's salary even more.
When the next fiscal year starts Oct. 1, commissioners will earn $300 a month, while the mayor will make $450 a month. The new wages will cost the city an additional $13,200 a year.
Only one resident, Patricia Tidsworth, spoke during a public hearing on the matter. She questioned both the timing and the need for the raises.
"Why not wait until the next budget talks?" asked Tidsworth, adding that bigger paychecks don't always attract better leaders. "Look at Washington. They have big paychecks, big perks and big personal agendas."
City Commissioners Scott Black and William Dennis suggested holding off on the ordinance until the fall, when the group has a better understanding of the city's financial situation.
"I'd like to table this," said Black. "Let's see if we'll be able to continue the same level of service before we spend money we're not sure we'll even have."
Dennis said guaranteeing higher pay for the commission before looking at the feasibility of giving raises to city employees could give a bad impression.
"It sort of looks like we're saying 'Hey, we're going to get ours no matter what,' " said Dennis. "That's the appearance it gives."
Black made a motion to table the ordinance until the second budget meeting in September, suggesting that he may be in favor of it then if there is enough extra money. Dennis agreed, but the motion failed when Mayor Camille Hernandez and Commissioners Eunice Penix and Jim Shive voted against it.
"This is something that's needed to be addressed for more than 20 years," said Shive, who made a motion to approve the ordinance. Penix seconded the motion, which passed 3-2. Hernandez voted in favor, while Black and Dennis voted against.
In previous meetings, Penix said she believes Dade City needs to put itself on more equal footing with other cities when it comes to compensating elected officials. Zephyrhills pays its city council members $500 a month, for instance.
Shive also reiterated his belief that the city should be more in line with Florida League of Cities' standards. Black countered that not all cities or communities abide by any certain criteria, that there is a wide range of pay scales for elected leaders throughout the state.