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Coral Springs residents to vote on pay hike for city officials

Coral Springs voters will decide on Nov. 4 if they want city officials to be given a pay increase.

The current compensation for commissioners, after an annual adjustment based on the consumer price index (CPI), is $17,420 per year, while it is $21,776 per year for the mayor. The proposal is to increase the compensation for commissioners and the mayor to $28,000 and $34,000, respectively.

At last week's meeting, the City Commission voted 3-2 in favor of putting the issue on the ballot for the November election. If the voters say "yes," the pay increase would come into effect on January 1, 2017.

Commissioners Dan Daley and Claudette Bruck voted against having the issue on the ballot, while Mayor Vince Boccard, Vice Mayor Larry Vignola and Commissioner Tom Powers voted in favor. Boccard, Bruck and Powers will be termed out by 2017. Vignola, who wouldn't be termed out then and intends to serve, announced that he would donate the extra compensation to charities of his choice in the city.

"I hate the idea that this will affect me," Vignola said. "Increasing the compensation is the right thing to do for the city; it does cost us a lot of money to do this job. The city runs the risk of not getting quality candidates if the compensation is not increased. I am uncomfortable taking the pay increase and will donate the extra amount to charity and offer scholarships to students."

The proposed compensation is based on the average compensation for cities with populations of more than 50,000 in the county. The compensation specified in the city's current charter, without the CPI adjustments, is $12,000 for commissioners and $15,000 for the mayor.

"I'm opposed to it, to more than doubling what is in the charter," Bruck said. "The way it stands now, if we want an increase, we go directly to the voters through a referendum. I think we should keep it that way... I am concerned about people running for office because of the compensation. It will be a slippery slope."

Powers said his decision to vote in favor was based on what is good for the city "down the road."

"This is uncomfortable for folks on the dais," he said. "That is one of the reasons why you will see 2017 written into this. The majority of the commission will not benefit from this. What I am looking at is what is proper down the road. The pay has been very low for quite a while. We are not deciding if we will or won't get raises. It is the public that will decide."

Boccard said he ran for "the love of the city" and not for the compensation. "The job takes up a lot of your time and expense...," he said. "We are just bringing it forward to the voters; we are not making the decision.

"I think it is important for people to realize that there is no opportunity for future commissions to give themselves a raise or a bonus of any kind. It is going to go back to the voters in 10 years."

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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