JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A bill that would get rid of built-in pay raises for Jacksonville City Council members hit a hurdle in committee Tuesday with an amendment that Councilman Rory Diamond called an attempt to “gut” the legislation.
Diamond, who introduced the bill earlier this year, wants to require council members to pass standalone legislation to increase their salaries each year.
“We did great on Monday and then the swamp creatures were fighting back yesterday,” Diamond said during an interview Wednesday on The Morning Show. “But we can still pass the original bill, stop automatic pay increases and have a public vote. First, we have to stop that amendment and then get this thing across the finish line on Tuesday, but we have to absolutely let the people know what’s going on. We have to drain the swamp in downtown Jacksonville.”
DOCUMENT: View a copy of the proposed legislation
Diamond said right now it looks like the NOPE bill, which stands for “No Obligatory Pay Enlargement,” has about nine council members in favor and 10 against, but he’s hopeful it could still pass during the full vote on Tuesday.
Update! Finance Committee voted to PROTECT automatic pay raises for Jax Council. Carlucci, DeFoor, Priestly-Jackson, Morgan, and Dennis voted for automatic raises. Thank you, Council Members Cumber and Salem for voting for TRANSPARENCY and an up or down public vote on a raise. pic.twitter.com/pC9phKVLD3— Rory Diamond (@RoryDiamond) March 16, 2021
If not, he said he’ll keep bringing it back every year because he thinks it’s “the right thing to do.”
“In the middle of a pandemic, we got an automatic pay raise. That’s insanity. And the public had no idea,” Diamond said. “It’s the public’s money. This is the one time of year that we vote to take money out of your pocket and put it into our own. That should be out in the public. That should be for everybody to know. That should have the highest level of scrutiny.”
Our NOPE Bill cleared TEU committee today 5-1 (Joyce Morgan opposing). On to Rules and Finance tomorrow, strong start! pic.twitter.com/bX0Q440IlI— Rory Diamond (@RoryDiamond) March 15, 2021
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 the adjusted cost of living, would have to be filed and approved in a bill separate from the city’s annual budget.