Boynton Beach Commissioners Say No to Outrageous Pay Raise Loophole
Boynton Beach commissioners are now saying no to voting for a budget allowing a couple of hundred thousand a year of taxpayer dollars to be split between the commissioners’ five ways for personal expenses.
A few short days ago, Florida Jolt reported that Boynton Beach Commissioners were discussing voting for an outrageous pay raise loophole that would allow local government to bypass the will of the residents to give themselves “stipends” for such items as clothing and car expenses. A couple of days later, some commissioners distanced themselves from the disastrous idea and threw City Manager Dan Dugger under the bus, claiming the idea was all his doing and that they had no clue what was happening. Dugger immediately manned up and took full responsibility but didn’t have an answer when asked what gave him the idea in the first place that the commissioners needed a raise.
Current Boynton Beach Commissioner salaries are $23,000 a year. The proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2024 would give each city commissioner about $36,000 more per year; the upset over this is understandable. For the first time, the proposed budget would provide city commissioners a $51,000 car allowance, an office stipend of about $71,000 a year, and a clothing allowance of $17,500 a year – all of which they would split five ways.
Thanks to vigilant residents, the commissioners will not be voting in favor of the loophole pay raise. Mayor Penserga started the ball rolling with the following statement:
“I do not support the expenses as presented. I will publicly oppose it at the upcoming budget hearings. If a consensus is not achieved to reverse it, I will advocate to put this on the ballot and let the voters decide what they believe is appropriate.”
“At the last city commission meeting, I proposed creating the office of an independent City Auditor. This will serve as a watchdog for our residents to keep our government transparent and in check.” Mayor Ty Penserga
Florida Jolt spoke to Commissioner Woodrow Hay, who said he has not and will not support the increased expenses for commissioners in the budget.
Commissioner Hay had already voiced his opposition at the City Council meeting.
“I would support a reasonable increase, but not to the extent that’s being considered” ~Commissioner Hay
Florida Jolt Publisher Jack Furnari texted the following questions to Boynton Commissioners Angela Cruz and Aimee Kelley:
This is Jack Furnari of Florida Jolt, and I have a few questions that I hope you can answer for me on the record.
Mayor Ty issued a statement that said he would oppose the increased commissioner expenses at the next budget meeting and will again ask for a city auditor.
Do you oppose or support raising commissioner expenses as shown in the budget without getting voter approval?
Should city commissioners get a raise, and how much should it be if they do?
Does Boynton need a City Auditor? ~Jack Furnari
I do not support the large increases as proposed in the current budget. I do support the healthcare benefit component and look forward to further review of the budget in September to make amendments as necessary. I also encourage the public to continue providing their input.
I believe a City Auditor is a great idea, a good use of resources, and will help ensure greater transparency in our budget process.~Commissioner Angela Cruz
Thank you for reaching out, and I am happy to provide a statement:
We have not yet approved a final budget for the upcoming year, and I would not support such significant expenses for the Commission.
Maintaining public trust is important and this is why I would support looking into the process of hiring a city auditor to increase transparency and accountability.
Thank you! ~Commissioner Aimee Kelley
In a previous conversation with Florida Jolt Vice-Mayor Turkin said:
“An increase that large or of that magnitude needs to be selected by the voters via referendum…” Vice-Mayor Turkin
Turkin also said he would not vote to put that large an increase on the ballot, he does not support Boynton having a strong mayor, and he is fine with the current length of the city commissioners’ terms in office.
Boynton residents were hopping mad about bypassing the rules. The city charter calls for a referendum, voted on by residents on a ballot, to allow for a pay raise. The budget idea was a loophole allowing the commissioners to bypass a resident vote. “I can tell you this is making people madder than a hound dog with a head cold,” former Commissioner David Katz said. Another resident described it as “a greed-fueled sad comedy of errors.” If no one had been paying attention, this “highway robbery,” as resident Cindy Falco described it, could have just gone through, and no one could have stopped it.
What’s clear is that the commissioners feel they need more money, and that may be true and should be debated.
What’s also clear is that the city of Boynton Beach should close the expense loophole. Expenses should be considered part of the total city commissioner compensation package and voted on by the public. Not only was this budget ploy unethical, but it bordered on malfeasance, and the citizens of Boynton saved city commissioners from themselves.
The budget vote is coming up at the beginning of September. Whatever the outcome, as long as Boynton residents stay vigilant, the decision will be in their hands. They need to be aware of what the local government is doing and keep the pressure on them to do right by them.
And yes, this episode proves that Boynton Beach needs a City Auditor. One can’t have foxes guarding the hen house.
Other stories you may want to read:
- Judge Tanya Chutkan, an Obama Appointee, Gags President Trump - October 16, 2023
- Boynton Beach Commissioners Say No to Outrageous Pay Raise Loophole - August 9, 2023