HOLMES BEACH – With Commissioner Pat Morton absent, a motion to give city commissioners a $250 per month stipend raise failed on a tie.
At the suggestion of the 2019 Charter Review Commission, city Commissioner Carol Soustek brought up the idea of giving the city’s commissioners a small raise, bringing their monthly stipend up from $500 to $750. The stipend amount was last raised in 2007. Any change in the stipend amount wouldn’t affect what the sitting commissioners are compensated for the elected position. A current commissioner’s stipend would only be changed after he or she is re-elected. It would also affect any newly elected commissioners.
If the change in stipend amount had been accepted by commissioners, it would have resulted in an annual raise of $3,000 to $9,000 annually or $750 per month. Commissioners currently receive a monthly stipend of $500 for their service to the city.
“I think this is very warranted to those who take their job very seriously,” Soustek said. “It’s not a small job anymore; it’s a big job.” She added that increasing the stipend would show more respect for the hours commissioners spend researching and preparing for city meetings in order to make the best decisions they can for the residents.
“Commissioners are not just a face anymore,” she said. “It’s a job, and you have to do it if you really want to fulfill your promise as a commissioner.”
Commissioner Jim Kihm agreed with Soustek, adding that he felt the city should keep up with what other cities of their size are offering commissioners and that raising the amount of the stipend could encourage more people to run for a seat on the dais.
Commissioner Rick Hurst disagreed with the idea of increasing the stipend to encourage future commission candidates to run for elected office.
“My opinion on this is that I didn’t run for the money,” he said, adding that he doesn’t want to encourage future candidates to run based on the compensation they would receive if elected.
“I’m doing it strictly to serve the residents of Holmes Beach,” Commissioner Kim Rash said, agreeing with Hurst that he didn’t want people to run for office because of a financial incentive. “I just do it because I love Holmes Beach,” he said.
With Soustek and Kihm voting for the raise and Rash and Hurst voting against it, the motion to raise the commissioners’ stipend failed on a tie without Morton there to break it.