People of Boynton Beach Win – No Pay Raises for City Commissioners

It was a massive win for residents Tuesday night when three out of five Boynton Beach commissioners voted against an enormous salary increase that would have covered frivolous, diva expenses such as a clothing allowance and vehicle coverage, all on the taxpayer’s dime. Commissioners Tom Turkin and Angela Cruz voted in favor of the pay raise. Commissioners Aimee Kelley and Woodrow Hay voted no, as did Mayor Ty Penserga. Penserga was the tie-breaking opposing vote. 

Top L-R: Mayor Ty Penserga and Commissioner Angela Cruz, District 1. Bottom L-R: Vice Mayor Thomas Turkin, District III, Commissioner Woodrow L. Hay, District II, and Commissioner Aimee Kelley, District IV

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This all started about a month ago when some commissioners decided to exploit a loophole that would bypass the will of the voters. As Florida Jolt’s Jack Furnari mentioned in his article; 

The commissioners earn $23,000 a year and wanted to give themselves $36,000 in cash and call it expenses. ~Jack Furnari

Boynton Beach City commissioners found a loophole to increase salary significantly. The commissioners were considering increasing their expenses in the 2024 budget for such things as wardrobe expenses for thousands of dollars and vehicle expenses, which had left some residents hopping mad over what they saw as an outrageous use of tax dollars. For the first time, the proposed budget would have provided 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.

After the outrageous news came out, Boynton Beach City manager Dan Dugger fell on his sword and said the whole thing was his idea. Dugger was out of the country and had yet to learn this story had broken. When Florida Jolt spoke with him, he took full responsibility for the salary idea. He would not throw any commissioners under the bus, even though none had opposed the idea. 

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At Tuesday night’s meeting, Commissioner Turkin fought desperately for the salary increase. Former commissioner David Katz said that Turkin attacked Commissioner Aimee Kelley for being against the salary increase because her husband works for the city. Therefore, she has plenty of money. 

Commissioner Cruz fought for the pay raise by stating that she needed the money for health care benefits because she suffers from stress. It should be noted that she works for the county and can partake in county benefits, and there are healthcare benefits through the city of Boynton Beach as well. 

Turkin is a hypocrite. He says one thing and does another. Cruz says she needs the money because she’s stressed out. If that’s the case, she should resign. ~Former Commissioner David Katz

Here’s where the story gets interesting. Some commissioners were happy to take zero responsibility for the pay increase idea and dump it all on Dugger and continued to do so during last night’s meeting. Turkin had this to say a few weeks ago to Florida Jolt;

I wanted to wait and allow City Manager Dugger to speak for himself when he comes back in town from his vacation to identify what the thought process, rhyme/reason was for such a significant increase to be submitted into the budget…

Versus throwing blame without a chance to respond, I respect him enough to allow him to enjoy his well-deserved time off and wait until he gets back to explain how/why this was submitted into the budget.

When asked who had gone to the city manager, he claimed not to be part of it and said;

I have a lot of theories about who was responsible, but I’ll keep those to myself. ~Commisioner Tom Turkin

Note the following quote.

An increase that large or of that magnitude needs to be selected by the voters via referendum…… ~Commissioner Turkin

The kicker is that although Turkin had said he thought this decision should go to voters, he ultimately voted for a one hundred percent increase, threw a hissy fit, and stormed out of the meeting when the vote didn’t go his way. 

Turkin and Cruz were on the losing side of this battle. Kelley, Hay, and Penserga were on the right side of this, and it’s clear that they’re taking resident input seriously. Take note, Boynton Beach voters are watching you commissioners.

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