CAPE CORAL, Fla. - The Cape Coral city council heard a committee's suggestions for changes to the city charter on Monday night. Among the 11 proposals: pay council members more, with the argument it could be good for the city.
"Our council is paid half of what normal cities our size make," said charter commission member Steven Crane.
Council members are among Cape Coral's lowest-paid city employees, making about $16,000 a year. The mayor makes a couple thousand more.
A citizen charter review committee says the city's leaders are tasked with a heavy workload, and the low pay limits who's willing to run for office and take on the responsibility.
"You wind up with people that don't need money on your council, for example, retired people who already have established income," Crane said.
That's true for some of the current council; though others, like Kevin McGrail, also hold down day jobs.
"To be honest I did not run for council because of the compensation, but I'm working a full time job as a medical technologist," McGrail said. "Its tough, I have to work two jobs."
Right now, council members and the mayor are paid based on the number of registered voters. The charter group offered two plans to change that: base pay on the larger total population, or allow the council to set their own salaries, which McGrail finds dangerous.
"That unlimited ability to change your pay scares the average person," McGrail said.
Several on the council say discussing pay raises at all in the current economic climate may not be the best move.
"It's very hard for me to say, yes, it's a go, when we're asking city employees to take cuts," said Mayor John Sullivan.
The council has not said when it will make a decision on which charter changes will go to voters. If a pay raise change is approved based on population, it would amount to about $10,000 more for each council member, or about $80,000 more in taxpayer dollars.