Compensation to be in effect for 2022 and 2023 fiscal years
The state has not released the figures yet, but the Sarasota County commissioners have voted unanimously to ensure their salaries for 2022 and 2023 will be revised according to the state recommendation.
The Aug. 25 agenda item was listed as a “Presentation upon Request,” but no board member asked for staff comments, and no one had signed up to speak on the issue.
Therefore, when Chair Alan Maio asked for a motion, Commissioner Nancy Detert made it, and Commissioner Michael Moran seconded it.
Formally, the board members adopted Ordinance No. 2021-043, which explains that Section 145.031 of the Florida Statutes “provides that each fiscal year commissioner salaries shall be increased or decreased pursuant to Section 145.19(2)” of the Florida Statutes.
Further, the ordinance notes, “Section 2.1B of the Sarasota County Charter provides that commissioners shall determine by ordinance the salary paid its members on each odd-numbered year, which salary shall remain fixed until the next odd-numbered year.”
The Charter does specify that the salary cannot exceed the level set by the Florida Legislature, but it “may be any lesser amount.”
Moreover, the ordinance says that in accord with the language in state law, “[T]he term ‘salary’ shall not be deemed to include all or any portion of the payment of the costs of life, health, accident, hospitalization, or annuity insurance as authorized in Section 112.08 [of the Florida Statutes],” regarding county officials. Additionally, “salary” does not apply to “payment for expenses incurred in the performance of the duties of County Commissioners as provided by general laws of the State of Florida.”
The effective period of the new Sarasota County Commission salaries is Oct. 1, 2021 through Sept. 30, 2023, the ordinance notes.
A September 2020 document released by the state’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research explains that, prior to action by the Florida Legislature in 1973, “the authorization of changes to county officers’ compensation required frequent legislative action. … [T]he Legislature determined that a uniform salary law was needed to replace the previous local law method of determining compensation, which was haphazard, preferential, inequitable, and probably unconstitutional. In addition, the Legislature intended to provide for uniform compensation of county officers having substantially equal duties and responsibilities and basing these uniform salary schedules on countywide population.”
That document adds that the “current salary formula methodology specifies that the latest official population census counts or intercensal estimates for the years between decennial censuses serve as a major component of the salary computation.”
The document cited 426,275 as the 2019 estimate for Sarasota County’s population. The official 2020 Census count is 434,006.
A Sarasota County commissioner was entitled to $91,821 for the 2021 fiscal year, the document said. That fiscal year began on Oct. 1, 2020.
An Aug. 25 county staff memo provided to the board members noted that the salary calculations “are published annually by the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, typically in September.”
The report had not been published as of Sept. 1, The Sarasota News Leader found.
The last time the commissioners approved their salaries was on Aug. 27, 2019. That action applied to the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years, the memo pointed out. The figure was $87,930.