JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Several Jacksonville City Council members are calling for a freeze on council salaries.
Councilman Rory Diamond introduced a bill Wednesday that would get rid of built-in pay raises for council members and instead require them to pass standalone legislation to increase their salaries.
It’s known as the NOPE bill, which stands for “No Obligatory Pay Enlargement.”
“We are in the middle of a pandemic,” Diamond said of the bill. “There is a financial crisis. People all over Jacksonville are out of their jobs or homes. This is not the time for an automatic pay increase.”
DOCUMENT: View a copy of the proposed legislation
The City Council OK’d a $2,302 raise programmed into the 2020-21 city budget, bringing salaries for most council members to over $52,000. According to figures provided by Diamond, the city spends more than $1 million a year on council salaries and $595,000 more in benefits.
“If you give yourself an automatic pay raise while the rest of Jacksonville is in crisis, it’s absolutely irresponsible and smacks of arrogance,” said Diamond, who donated his raise to charity.
Under his legislation, the City Council would fix annual salaries for council members at a rate equivalent to half the salary for a county commissioner in a county roughly the same size as Duval. Only the council president would earn more. Any pay raises, including those based on adjusted cost of living, would have to be filed and approved in a bill separate from the city’s annual budget.
“I just don’t feel being an elected official you can give yourself a raise,” said Councilman Al Ferraro, who supports the bill. “And if you’re going to give yourself a raise, you have to be able to get criticism from the public about why you’re doing this and hear from them.”
News4Jax spoke with some residents who agreed with Diamond’s proposal, including one who said elected officials should be playing by the same set of rules as citizens in the private sector.
“I think it should be based on the same principle we get raises on,” Sammy McCray said. “It shouldn’t be automatic.”