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Working for a city is not a 9-5 job. Problems from sewage to noise to bad auto accidents can happen anytime and everyone from utility workers to police to elected officials field calls all hours of the day and night.

Now Wilton Manors is moving to make the reward (pay) match the effort.

At the city commission meeting on Aug. 23, commissioners discussed increasing their salaries, along with that of City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson and police officers. All those raises have been mentioned at previous meetings but took steps forward. Covering about two square miles and with a population of around 13,000, Wilton Manors is a small city by many metrics and public salaries are no exception. Commissioners say raising pay will help the city attract candidates to run, and retain talent.

City Commission Salaries

Pay for the mayor and commissioners has been stagnant since 2015 and, accounting for inflation, is about the same as they made in 2000. The proposed increase would bring the mayor’s pay to $30,000 from $11,250, and $25,000 from $9,750 for city commissioners, more than double what they make now. They also get health insurance, a benefit that would be codified in the ordinance.

With two commission seats and the mayor’s office up for election in November, Mayor Scott Newton said now is the moment to address the issue.

“I think now is the time to bring it up. The time is not next year when there’s not an election. It’s very easy to give yourself a raise when there’s no election.”

Commissioners pointed out that other cities not only pay more but also offer a stipend worth thousands of dollars that don’t need to be accounted for. Newton said he and others get calls at their “day jobs” as well as during all hours of the night. He believes the money will help attract top talent when the current commission is gone.

“We will get more people to run for office if there’s a little more [money] in there. We need to make sure that, after we’re gone, people still want to run for the commission.”

Commissioners voted to move it to second reading and will hear additional public comments at a future meeting.

Police Pay

Wilton Manors Police officers are also among the lowest paid in South Florida. As a result, many join the force, get experience, and move on to better-paying jurisdictions.

The city has already begun talking with the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) about increasing salaries, despite being in the middle of the current collective bargaining agreement.

“They’re still in contract. We as a commission decided to open up Article One [of the contract] which is salaries for the police officers. We didn’t have to do that. But we want to keep quality officers.”

The two sides are still working on finding a number that will work for the officers and the budget.

City Manager

Commissioners are also looking to increase the pay for City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson. She currently has an annual salary of $202,000. When pension benefits are added in, her total compensation is about $247,000. Average total compensation for city managers in Broward County is about $306,000.

It was pointed out that, like police and elected officials, she gets called at all times and deals with residents and other employees.

Updates on all salary discussions will be brought up at a future city commission meeting. The next is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sept. 13.

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