The Naples “blue ribbon” committee voted 5-2 on Friday to recommend to City Council a 8.2% salary increase for the positions of the mayor and the council members.
Committee members Julie Domenick, Chairman David Feight, Janet Ferry, James Melican and Clifford Holland voted in favor, while Charles Seeger and Jerry Brown voted against it.
If the recommendation is adopted by City Council, the mayor’s annual salary would increase from $50,000 to $54,100 and the council members would see an annual raise from $40,000 to $43,300 effectiveone day after the Feb. 1, 2022, municipal election.
But the committee did not recommend increases to the benefits of the mayor and the council members.
In a 5-2 vote, the committee recommended to keep the stipends of the mayor and council members as they are today. Brown and Seeger voted against it.
The mayor’s annual stipend is $4,800 and the annual stipend of the council members is $3,600 each.
The committee also voted unanimously to recommend to City Council an amendment to the city charter to establish the “blue ribbon” committee every two years instead of four.
City Council will consider the committee’s recommendations on Oct. 20.
A motion by Seeger to increase the salaries of the mayor and council members to $60,000 and $50,000, respectively, failed 4-3 earlier during the meeting after Feight, Ferry, Holland and Melican voted against it.
Seeger had said the salaries of the mayor and council members should be increased to $70,000 and $60,000 respectively, but the proposal did not gain enough support among his peers.
“These numbers will attract no one (to run for City Council),” he said referring to his motion.
“I think they are very inadequately compensated,” he said.
Brown echoed Seeger’ concerns, saying the salaries of the mayor and council members should “entice” people who are not rich to run for office too.
“I do not think I would take this position for what it is paying,” he said.
Ferry said that none of the proposed salary increases discussed during the meeting were a “living wage” in Naples. “None of these numbers are a living wage,” she said.
Melican said he would not support a “big” salary increase such as the one Seeger proposed, while Holland and Domenick said they would support a salary increase based on inflation.
Domenick said it takes additional time for council members to prepare for City Council meetings.
“You can’t just walk into a City Council meeting without having met with your constituents,” Domenick said.
In August, each council member appointed a Naples resident to establish the committee.
- Mayor Teresa Heitmann appointed Domenick, past president of the Bayfront Condominium Association
- Vice Mayor Terry Hutchison appointed Seeger, an attorney
- Councilman Ted Blankenship appointed Holland, a retired businessman and president of the Moorings Property Owners Association
- Councilman Ray Christman appointed Melican, president emeritus of the Gulf Shore Association of Condominiums and former Planning Advisory Board member
- Councilman Gary Price appointed Feight, president of the Gulf Shore Association of Condominiums, past chairman of the Planning advisory board and past member of the 2017 blue ribbon committee
- Councilman Paul Perry appointed Brown, vice president of the Aqualane Shores Association
- Councilman Mike McCabe appointed Ferry in a separate meeting
In 2017, a similar committee voted 5-2 to recommend to City Council a 67% salary increase for the mayor and a 70% increase for each council member.
The annual salary of the mayor would increase from $30,000 to $50,000 and the salary of each council member would increase from $23,500 to $40,000.
The committee also recommended that the monthly stipend for council members be increased from $200 to $300 each month and the mayor’s to remain the same at $400.
In a 4-3 vote, City Council voted for the salary and benefit increases as recommended by the committee.