Vote in Boca’s August election

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By: Marisa Gottesman Associate Editor
It will be up to Boca Raton residents to decide whether they think their employees, the city council members deserve a raise.
The topic of potentially increasing elected official’s salaries to be quadruple what they currently earn will appear on the Aug. 30 ballot.
The pay raise has been discussed at various meetings throughout the year and has been presented in several different ways.
The most recent proposal was introduced by Councilman Robert Weinroth. The proposal would raise the mayor’s annual salary from $9,000 to $38,000. Council members’ pay would increase from $7,200 to $28,000.
What differs from the proposal approved by council members in January is that salaries would not increase whenever Pam Beach County commissioners get raises.
The change was aimed at appeasing residents who were critical of that proposal. Council members approved the January proposal 4-1 with Councilman Scott Singer casting the dissenting vote. He said he would rather see a pay raise come from petitions circulated by residents. He also didn’t support the timing of when the question would appear before voters.
If approved by residents, the raise would go into effect on Oct. 1. It would be the first pay increase for elected officials in Boca in more than 30 years. The last raise came in 1984.
Voters have rejected proposed raises twice since 2004, which has prompted council members to choose the wording of this proposal carefully.
Previous iterations of the proposal linked Boca salaries to the salaries of state legislators and had higher salaries attached. The proposed mayor’s salary was $2,800 more and the council members was $931 more.
This time, council members say the goal of the salary increase is to “continue to attract qualified candidates,” according to the proposal.
The idea of a raise was proposed by a resident who wanted to make running for office appealing. Some residents are critical of the current council benefitting from the increase if it is approved.
Their jobs are considered part-time. They are responsible for setting city rules and policies for Boca’s 90,000 residents. The increase would bring salaries to more than Boca’s neighboring cities.
The Boynton Beach mayor earns $18,809, and city commissioners make $15,675 for representing a city of about 73,000 residents.
Delray Beach’s mayor earns $12,854 and commissioners $9,638. They represent a city of about 65,000 residents.
Boca council members have said they spend about 20 to 30 hours a week working on city business.
Also on the ballot is a question proposed by Councilman Scott Singer. The referendum involves asking voters whether they think unexpected vacancies on the council should be filled by a special election or an appointment.
Currently, the council appoints a member to serve until the next scheduled election takes place. Singer first raised the topic in May, but didn’t receive support from his colleagues.
He revised the proposal to state the council would have 90 days to fill the vacancy and outlines ways to save money by holding special elections when other elections are scheduled, even if they are more than 90 days out from the vacancy.
Special elections are costly and range from $7.500 to $10,000 when held in conjunction with a primary or general election or between $120,000 and $135,000 if the city holds its own stand-alone special election, according to city officials.