The first rounds of Bradenton Beach budget talks ended July 11 with commissioners settling on a salary raise of 3 percent for city employees.
Department heads presented preliminary budgets July 9-11, with the raise of 3 percent included in the figures, but Commissioner Ric Gatehouse said he would prefer to lower it to 2.5 percent.
“I apologize for bringing this up so late, but I was not aware we were looking at 3 percent until it was mentioned during the police department budget,” said Gatehouse. “Having had time to reflect on that, I mentioned I wasn’t entirely comfortable with that figure.”
Gatehouse proposed a more consistent plan for pay raises, offering city employees 2.5 percent in fiscal 2012-13, and to plan for smaller raises each year going forward.
Gatehouse said, “I want to do something that is more sustainable,” than what previous commissions have done with employee raises.
Gatehouse suggested 2.5 percent this year and 1.5 percent every year after and “incorporate a merit-based raise of an additional 1 percent. That way you are creating something that is sustainable and not a huge impact on the budget every year.”
Vice Mayor Ed Straight said he would prefer to go with 3 percent.
“I’d also like to go on record against any merit increase,” he said. “I dealt with that with the county, and my experience is that it’s more trouble than it’s worth.”
Commissioner Jan Vosburgh wanted to lower the proposed raise to 2 percent.
“I was the bad guy last year, and I will probably be the bad guy this year,” she said. “I was thinking 2 percent. City employees got a raise last year, and they get an excellent benefit package. When working in the free enterprise system, it’s completely different. You only got a raise if you deserve a raise.”
Mayor John Shaughnessy said Gatehouse’s idea was a good one, “but there’s no guarantee the next commission will give them that 1.5 percent and could shoot down the merit raises, too. If you don’t go for it now, you don’t know what will happen next year.”
City clerk Nora Idso said she needed a consensus because the proposed budget already reflects a raise of 3 percent. She said she would need time to redo the budget if the commissioners wished to change the proposal.
Commissioner Gay Breuler, Shaughnessy, Straight and, after some discussion, Gatehouse agreed to the 3 percent raise. Vosburgh said she was willing to go to 2.5 percent.