MARCO ISLAND — Voters on Marco Island may soon decide if their elected officials deserve a raise. The idea has gone through an on-again, off-again cycle when considered by the Charter Review Committee.
Some gasped at the percentage increases, which included about a 33 percent increase for six council members and a 50 percent increase for the chairman. Few felt the dollar amounts added up to much. Council members currently earn $6,000 each year and the chairman earns $9,000. It was once considered to raise those annual earnings to $9,000 and $12,000 respectively.
“This just isn’t the time,” repeated Jack Patterson of the committee.
Committee Chairman Jim Riviere requested reconsideration at a special-called meeting Monday morning and Monte Lazurus agreed.
Lazarus, who in October opposed the idea based on the perception of giving a raise during tough economic times, became the swing voter Monday. The committee voted 4-3 in October against including raises as a ballot item of amendments to the charter. The committee voted 4-3 Monday in favor of the idea of giving smaller cost of living adjustment raises.
Riviere said with COLA likely not going up next year, the decision may not really mean much.
Regardless of the committee’s recommendation, it will be up to council Monday whether the proposed City Charter changes make it the January mail-in ballots. Then, it will be up to the voters.
City Councilmen Chuck Kiester and Jerry Gibson say they’re not sure if voters will have enough time to review the proposed changes in detail and make an informed decision.
“They’re still changing the language,” Kiester said Wednesday.
The City Charter amendments were approved on first reading by Council in October, but there have been additional changes since.
The committee changed exemptions to the amendment that would require all projects that cost more than $12 million to be approved by ordinance rather than by resolution. Septic tank replacement program (STRP) related projects and upgrading the water treatment plant are exempted.
Other proposed amendments:
- Council may launch an investigation of any city employee, including the city manager, or city department, with a vote of five out of seven council members.
- The city manager is to inform council immediately of any projected budget deviation of $250,000 or more.
- Fiscal 2008 may be the base year to calculate the city spending cap. The spending cap is currently calculated by adding 3 percent plus COLA onto the previous year’s budget. This will allow council to use 2008 figures to create a larger maximum spending limit because 2008 was the beginning of when council budgeted less than they were allowed with the spending cap.
- Council term limits will be set to no more than two consecutive four-year terms beginning with the 2014 election and no current or former member may serve more than eight years total, excluding any council members who may serve eight years and eight months due to the changes in election dates.