Charter commission explores pay raise for Cape council
The Charter Review Commission did not endorse pay raises for city council and the mayor on Wednesday but the subject will likely be broached again at future meetings.
Former Mayor Arnold Kempe suggested changing compensation for elected officials based on population instead of registered voters.
Doing so, he said, would attract people to do their civic duty who might otherwise not be able to afford it.
“How many qualified people have not run for office simply because they cannot afford it?” Kempe asked.
Most of the board agreed that pay raises in these economic times would not only be out of line, but would likely find little support if brought before voters next year.
Charter changes must be voter approved.
Board member Lynn Rosko said that in “ordinary” financial times pay raises could be considered. Doing so now, she said, is not appropriate.
“It’s a very poor time to consider or talk about increasing someone’s salary,” she said.
Board member Stephen Crane said that as the largest city in Southwest Florida it’s not out of line to consider the mayor and city council being better compensated.
And, like Kempe, Crane thinks the current salaries exclude a certain demographic of the population.
“I don’t see any young people winding up on council at all … you are excluding them,” Crane said.
Pay raises for city council and the mayor have been turned down three times previously by voters.
Cathy Solich, a resident of Cape Coral for 35 years, said such a proposal would likely be turned down again if asked to be decided by voters.
Solich spoke out during the meeting opposing the raise, citing not only the economy but the recent pay reductions to city staff approved by council.
“I don’t see how it’s right,” she said of the raise proposal.
A resolution was discussed that would allow council to raise and lower its own compensation based on the economy, but like the other propositions, didn’t seem to fit with the financial times.
“It won’t fly under current economic conditions,” Board member William “Scott” Morris said.