Compensation rises in accord to county population, as outlined in Florida Statutes
Taking place before the Aug. 27 redistricting discussion, one Sarasota County Commission public hearing, scheduled as a “Presentation Upon Request,” was dispatched in almost exactly 40 seconds.
In that space of time, on a motion by Commissioner Nancy Detert, seconded by Commissioner Michael Moran, the board members approved a new salary level for themselves.
The amount, county Media Relations Officer Drew Winchester told The Sarasota News Leaderthis week, is $87,930.
“The updated salaries are set by the state, based on population,” Winchester added in a Sept. 3 email, which included a copy of the salary schedules for all Florida counties.
For comparison purposes, commissioners in Broward and Hillsborough counties will be paid $101,006, while a Charlotte County commissioner will be compensated $69,624. The salary of a Manatee County commissioner, according to the new schedule, will be $86,046.
A commissioner in Calhoun County, which is in the Panhandle, will be paid $28,650, the chart shows.
In April 2018, the Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR) at the University of Florida estimated the population of Calhoun County at 15,093. At the same time, it put the Sarasota County population at 417,442.
On Aug. 27, Chair Charles Hines read the agenda item, which called for adoption of Ordinance No. 2019-025, “amending commissioner statutory compensation for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021, pursuant to Chapter 145, Florida Statutes.”
“I don’t have any speaker cards,” Hines added, indicating no member of the public wanted to address the issue, which had been advertised prior to the meeting, according to county guidelines.
An Aug. 27 county staff memo in the backup agenda material explained, “The County Charter requires that, in each odd-numbered year, the Board of County Commissioners determine by ordinance the salary paid its members. Pursuant to Chapter 145, Florida Statues, each fiscal year, the Florida Legislature establishes the salaries of elected County Constitutional Officers, including County Commissioners, and the methodology for automatic annual adjustments to those salaries.”
The last time the board members voted on their salaries, the memo noted, was Sept. 26, 2017.
The state’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research at that time determined the Sarasota County Commission compensation would be $86,634, according to records maintained by that office.
In September 2009, the Office of Economic and Demographic Research listed the Sarasota County commissioner compensation at $79,425, with the county’s population estimated at 393,608 in 2008.
The ordinance the commissioners approved on Aug. 27 says that, in accord with Section 2.1.B. of the Sarasota County Charter, “the term ‘salary’ shall not be deemed to include payment for expenses incurred in the performance of the duties of County Commissioners as provided by general laws of the State of Florida.”
Section 145.011 of the Florida Statutes explains the intent of the state law:
“(2) The Legislature has determined that a uniform and not arbitrary and discriminatory salary law is needed to replace the haphazard, preferential, inequitable, and probably unconstitutional local law method of paying elected county officers.
“(3) It is further the intent of this Legislature to provide by general law for such uniform compensation of county officials having substantially equal duties and responsibilities, taking into account the multitude of changes that have affected these offices within the past decade.
“(4) The salary schedules in this chapter are therefore based on a classification of counties according to each county’s population, which the Legislature determines to be the most practical basis from which to arrive at an adequate, uniform salary system.”