The Gainesville Charter Review Commission on Thursday voted against a proposal that would have had voters decide whether to increase the salaries of the mayor and city commissioners.
The 11-member review panel voted 6-4 to not put such a charter amendment on the ballot in November. Dissenters argued that a pay raise for city leaders did not seem right when municipal workers and residents could still be struggling because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The proposal would have increased the mayor’s salary from $44,209.91 to $70,550.06 in yearly increments between 2021 and 2025. The city commissioners’ pay would have gone incrementally from $34,736.32 to $60,550.07 during the same period.
“For me, it’s a hard pill to swallow,” Chairwoman Mary Lou Hildreth said of the proposal during the panel’s third virtual meeting held this month.
Panel members Walter Barry, Jorge Campos, Cynthia Chestnut, Scherwin Henry and Donna Waller also voted against the measure. Susan Bottcher, Robert Cohen, Crystal Goodison and Jeremiah Tattersall voted in favor of it. Kali Blount did not attend the meeting.
“It’s so ironic that the city commission is giving living wage to all city employees other than themselves,” Cohen said.
The review commission was formed in May 2019 after Gainesville voters overwhelmingly opted in 2018 to creating an independent panel – once every decade – to consider charter amendments. The city’s charter serves as a governing document, much like a constitution, for the municipality.
Just one member of the public weighed in during the meeting.
Armando Grundy-Gomes made clear his disagreement with the proposed salary increase, saying “it comes from an elitist place” and that “it does not belong in the charter, period.”