Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Mosquito board cuts own pay

A majority of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control board agreed Wednesday night to reduce board members' annual salary by 10 percent.

The board postponed voting on a proposal to require employees and board members to pay $25 a month toward their health benefits, and will discuss that at its first budget hearing later this year.

The board voted 3-2 in favor of reducing commissioners' salaries, with board Chairman Bill Shaw and Commissioner Steve Smith dissenting. Prior to the vote, board members had earned salary of $21,500 a year plus benefits. When spread among all commissioners, the cut equates to a total savings of about $11,000 a year.

Shaw and Smith had argued that commissioners deserved their current salaries. Both said they have worked hard on lowering costs for health insurance and insurance for the district's aircraft, which resulted in a savings of hundreds of thousands dollars a year.

By reducing the salaries, the district runs the risk of attracting less qualified people, the two commissioners also said.

"I don't think I am overpaid," Shaw said.

Smith added that the savings would be "insignificant" and the proposal was "politically motivated."

Commissioner Jack Bridges reminded Smith that Smith had told voters prior to the last election that he supported the 10 percent cut. Smith did not reply.

"When trying to save money, every little bit counts," Bridges said.

• Also on Wednesday, the board discussed moving its Stock Island headquarters to Marathon. The city of Key West is considering not renewing the Mosquito Control District's property lease, which expires May 2014.

The district would still maintain a yard or facility in either Key West or on Stock Island. The district needs to keep between 15 to 18 employees, 15 to 34 trucks and four boats in the Lower Keys, District Executive Director Michael Doyle said. The district may also need space for two construction trailers to house equipment and staff to handle genetically modified mosquitoes, Doyle said.

tohara@keysnews.com

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