KEY LARGO -- The Key Largo Wastewater Board voted last week to increase its per-meeting compensation from $300 to $382. The board meets three times per month.
The increase is contingent on the approval of the Florida Legislature this session.
The raise comes at the advice of board attorney Ray Giglio, who insisted the additional monies be referred to as a cost-of-living adjustment. Since the district was created in 2002, the board has not received an increase in compensation, he said.
The rationale behind the $82 increase was spelled out in a memo prepared by Chief Information Officer Paul Christian, who tied it to consumer price index increases from 2002 to 2012. The only year the CPI decreased was in 2008.
With the potential monthly payment of $1,146, the board members would earn more than Village Council members, who are paid $1,000 a month, and less than Marathon City Council members, who make $1,500 a month.
"We are elected because people respect our ability," board member Steve Gibbs said. "Twelve hundred dollars is peanuts compared to the rest of the stuff we're dealing with."
Gibbs was referring to the initial figure being discussed of $400 per meeting. The newly elected board member said he spends about 80 hours a month on district-related business.
Giglio, whose monthly salary the board rasied from $5,000 to $7,500 in September, was emphatic that the local press not describe the increase as a raise.
"It is not a raise," Giglio said. "In fact, it is an adjustment for inflation."
In addition to the requested raise, the board is also sending state Rep. Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo, to Tallahassee with a resolution to amend the district's charter. The amendment would clarify the actions the district must take when a board member resigns in the weeks leading up to an election. The bill proposes extending the amount of time to replace a board member from 45 to 60 days. It also explains that if a vacancy occurs within 30 days of an election, an appointed replacement will serve the remainder of the outgoing board member's term.
Last August, board member Susan Hammaker resigned from her seat without enough time for the Supervisor of Elections to place the open seat on the November election ballot. After about two months, the board made an appointment that was later voided by the governor's office. After many weeks of correspondence with the state and with the help of Raschein, that appointee, David Asdourian, was reinstated.
The board said the goal of the resolution is to prevent such a scenario in the future.