TAMPA — City Council members could receive more than $20,000 in raises later this year as part of Mayor Jane Castor’s proposed budget.
City officials recommended increasing council members’ annual salary from $52,060 to $73,713 at the City Council meeting Thursday.
Some council members had asked for staff to take a look at their salaries ahead of the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, said John Bennett, the mayor’s chief of staff, at the meeting. He said they were made as “no-motion asks.”
Bennett declined to comment about which council members made the request. Adam Smith, the mayor’s spokesperson, said no-motion asks are made “verbally” by individual members.
“I was taken aback to hear about a proposed pay increase for Tampa City Council. This is a proposal from the mayor’s office and we will have to take a deeper dive into this and their rationale. This necessitates council discussions with scrutiny,” council member Luis Viera said by text in response to a request for comment from the Tampa Bay Times.
But council member Orlando Gudes said that residents have been calling for the city to compare Tampa’s City Council salaries against other cities for the last few years.
“It wasn’t council asking for a salary raise, I think it was more the general public asking for the council members to get a salary increase,” Gudes said after the meeting.
Staff came to their recommended increase after looking at comparable cities, including St. Petersburg and Orlando, the ratio of council members to constituents, median household income and median city employee salary, Smith said.
“The mayor believes the job should be an option to residents of all income levels,” Smith wrote in a text message.
Gudes said he’s seen a recent increase in the amount of work and complaints he has to handle in his district.
“The general public has made the cry for the last few years that this is more like a full-time job, not a part-time job,” he said.
Smith said council members are not classified as either full-time or part-time employees.
Council members often hold other private sector jobs. Four of the seven current board members list jobs outside of their council duties on their official city biographies.
The mayor’s proposed budget also includes a 3% raise for elected officials, which includes council members. That additional raise would take effect on May 1, 2023.
A budget workshop is scheduled for Aug. 16. A public hearing will take place on Sept. 6 and a final adoption on Sept. 20.