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5 percent raise: City manager gets salary boost

By Staff | Jun 15, 2016

Cape Coral City Council approved a 5 percent pay raise for City Manager John Szerlag Monday after rejecting a proposed 10 percent increase.

“I?think we should do 10 percent because we did that last year for all of our other employees,” said Councilmember Rick Williams, who made the motion. “Besides, we all know his salary is less than other similar size cities. I think he has done a phenomenal job and deserves it.”

Other council members would not support the 10 percent proposal that came just one week after some members balked at 5 percent when the issue was first raised at last week’s council meeting before being postponed.

“I was pushing to go to 4 percent just last week, so I will not support 10 percent,” said Councilmember Rana Erbrick. “It makes me think ‘What am I missing here’ because I am not happy with his performance, so 10 percent bothers me. I am not seeing the value that was there when we first hired him.”

Councilmember John Carioscia asked, “When John was hired the city was a mess and through his leadership we are now getting things done and going forward. We are in much better shape and you want to punish him for improving this city?”

After others raised their objection to a 10 percent increase, Williams backed off and moved that Szerlag receive a 5 percent raise.

“Then, down the road, when we sign a new contract that would be the time if we decide to give him more,” said Williams.

The discussion postponement last week came when some on council wanted to review individual evaluations by their colleagues before deciding on a raise. During the week, staff came up with an analysis of Szerlag’s salary compared to other municipalities, which ranged from $190,000 to $275,000 for an average of $219,000. Szerlag’s curent salary is $164,798.40.

Council rejected the other-cities analysis because all of the municipalities cited were on the east coast and northern Florida and none listed a salary below than Szerlag’s.

“The cost of living in Cape Coral is less than a lot of other cities,” said Councilmember Marilyn Stout in rejecting the information.

Only Erbrick said “no” when voting on the pay raise.

With the 5 percent increase, Szerlag’s salary will be $173,035.20. He also receives $500 per month for health/dental/vision and $650 per month for car allowance.

Council won’t meet again until July 18 due to the summer hiatus, which lasts through the next four Mondays.