Pensacola City Council Approves Mayor’s Salary Increase

The Pensacola City Council voted 5-2 on Thursday to approve a pay raise for whoever will be elected next mayor.

Councilman Jared Moore has proposed raising the mayor’s salary to $134,000. The position of mayor has paid $100,000 a year since the city charter took effect in 2010.

While previous attempts have been made to increase the position’s salary, most recently in 2018, the board never approved a salary increase until Thursday.

The $34,000 salary increase has been adjusted for inflation since 2010.

Moore said he believed the higher salary was needed for the city to continue to attract qualified applicants.

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“We may have people (who have) filed for mayor, but I can’t help but always wonder how many people aren’t running,” Moore said. “…We have great organizations (in the city with) lots of great professionals who manage hundreds of employees, manage budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars, but they won’t consider being mayor because compensation is meaningless.”

Moore’s proposal comes after council rejected a Charter Review Commission proposal to automatically set the mayor’s salary based on a formula.

Council members Ann Hill and Teniadé Broughton voted against the proposal but did not say during the meeting why they opposed it.

Councilwoman Jennifer Brahier said she supports the proposal because it would also allow people who are not wealthy to run for the job.

Councilwoman Sherri Myers, who is running for mayor, asked city staff for data on comparable cities with “strong mayors” and what those cities are paying. The two cities highlighted were Apopka and Plantation, which pay their mayors between $125,000 and $127,000.

Myers pointed out that none of these cities had an airport, port, or natural gas utility like Pensacola.

“I think (Moore’s proposal) is fair compensation considering the salaries in the other two cities I just mentioned, which I think are closest to the city of Pensacola,” Myers said. “And the fact that we have so many businesses that the mayor is responsible for that these other two towns don’t.”

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Myers also pointed out that many department heads and other city employees earn significantly more than the mayor’s current salary.

Current Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson was the only one to oppose the proposal. Robinson said he didn’t believe the raise was enough to change his mind about running for the position, while the $34,000 was about a third of what the city needed to raise the salaries of its lowest-paid workers at $15 an hour, which will become the state’s new minimum wage in 2026.

“If you asked me where I was going to put that $34,000, it would be to get the employees that are at that level,” Robinson said. “They are where the rubber meets the road when the job is done.”

The city’s proposed budget for next year already includes a pay raise for those employees to meet the 2026 requirement, Chief Financial Officer Amy Lovoy told council.

Moore said the mayor raising the issue was a “red leaker” because it’s the mayor’s office that sets employee salaries and makes budget requests to city council.

“If we have people who aren’t making minimum wage, we definitely need to focus on that,” Moore said. “But it’s, in my mind, it’s a red herring to distract from that in 2010 and 2022, we’re talking about the same dollars (for the inflation-adjusted mayor’s salary). C that’s all that’s adjusted there.”

Thursday’s vote was the first of two votes required to pass the pay rise. The next vote will take place on August 18.

Jim Little can be reached at [email protected] and 850-208-9827.

William M. Mayer