Parkland seeks residents’ nod to up commissioners’ salaries

Parkland city officials have had enough of earning a salary of $200 a month.

At last week’s City Commission meeting, officials voted 4-1 to approve, on first reading, an ordinance that amends the city charter to increase the salaries of city officials. The charter amendment, which has to be approved by voters, will appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.

City officials in cities of comparable size within the county take home salaries in the $25,000-to-$35,000 range. In Parkland, the annual salary of $2,400 hasn’t changed since 1982, when it was locked by a charter amendment.

If voters agree, the salaries and benefits will be adjusted every October, based on the average salaries of the mayors and city commissioners in Deerfield Beach, Margate and Coconut Creek. The salaries would be one percent less than what their counterparts earn in the three cities.

“This is not us doing anything on our salaries,” Mayor Michael Udine said. “We are asking residents if they want to unlock the salaries and do the average of the salaries of city officials in three cities of comparable size. I don’t even know what the salaries are (in the other cities).”

The charter amendment was proposed by Commissioner Mark Weissman. “It is embarrassing to say that our monthly salary is $200,” he said. “It has been that way for the last 32 years. Maybe $200 was a fair figure back then. Now, it isn’t.”

The goal of the charter amendment is to get good people to run for office, Weissman said. “In today’s world, getting good people to run for office is difficult. The amendment, if it passes, will hopefully change things.”

City officials in many cities vote on increasing their own salaries and benefits, Weissman said. “According to our charter, the city commission can vote on their benefits. The charter amendment will take everything out of the hands of the commission. Even if the amendment passes, our salaries will be less than that of officials in the other three cities.”

Vice Mayor Christine Hunschofsky was the only one voting against the proposal. “I think an argument can be made either way,” she said. “I agree that the salary is very low, but being new on the commission, I felt uncomfortable voting in favor. The voters will decide, and I’m happy about that.”

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