Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
January 27, 2015 11:14 a.m.
Have you ever wondered how the salaries of local elected officials are set in Florida?
Determining the compensation of Florida’s county constitutional officers harkens back to the Constitution of 1885. But it wasn’t until 1973 that the Legislature authorized a salary compensation formula, which was established to provide uniform compensation among counties with similar sized populations. In 2009, the Legislature authorized district school board members and elected school superintendents to reduce their salaries on a voluntary basis. Then in 2011, the Legislature authorized county commissioners, clerks of circuit court, county comptrollers, sheriffs, supervisors of elections, property appraisers, and tax collectors to voluntarily reduce their salaries. These rulings did not apply to charter counties or those counties, like Duval, that have a chartered consolidated form of government.
Nassau County is not a charter county, of which there are twenty in the state of Florida. Consequently, salaries of county and constitutional officers are set by the state formulas. The Office of Economic and Demographic Research (EDR) http://edr.state.fl.us/is a research arm of the Legislature, principally concerned with forecasting economic and social trends that affect policy making, revenues and appropriations. In September 2014, they issued an annual report entitled Salaries of Elected County Constitutional Officers and School District Officials for Fiscal Year 2014-15, included at the end of this article.
To my knowledge, no local official is currently opting voluntarily to accept a lower salary. If my information is incorrect, please notify me and I will print the correction.
According to the website www.ehow.com, in Texas, Pennsylvania and Colorado, state laws ban school districts from paying board members, and states including Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Louisiana and Missouri pay only a $100 to $200 monthly stipend or per diem plus expenses. However, school board members in Florida, California, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, and Alabama receive salaries.
The City of Fernandina Beach, which has a home rule charter, does not compensate city commissioners by formula. Section 12 of the city charter allows the commission to set its own salaries by ordinance. The amount has remained at $1,000 per month since 1997, with the exception of FY2011-12 (Ordinance 2011-21) when commissioners voluntarily took a 20 percent cut in salary for one year only during the economic recession. The next commission did not take action to continue the salary cut, so it reverted to $12,000 per year.
The Ocean Highway and Port Authority (OHPA) is a Special District and determines its own compensation as well. The OHPA charter allows commissioners a salary of $2,000 per month. However, over recent years port commissioners have voluntarily worked for half salary: $1,000 per month.
If you are considering a run for elected office, a look at the compensation by position might help you decide.
|Elected Office||Current Annual Salary||Incumbent(s)|
|Clerk of Courts||$110,484||John Crawford|
|Property Appraiser||110,484||Michael Hickox|
|Supervisor of Elections||92,409||Vicki Cannon|
|Tax Collector||110,484||John Drew|
|Nassau County Commissioner||44,612||Danny Leeper, Steve Kelley, Pat Edwards, George Spicer, Junior Boatright|
|Fernandina Beach City Commissioner||12,000||Ed Boner, Pat Gass, Robin Lentz, Johnny Miller, Tim Poynter|
|School Board Member||30,128||Donna Martin, Gail Cook, Jamie Deonas, Kimberly Fahlgren, Kathy Burns|
|Port Commissioner||12,000||Richard Bruce, Adam Salzburg, Carrol Franklin, Danny Fullwood, Ron Braddock|
CORRECTION: According to the most recent information from the Florida Association of Counties website ( fl-counties.com), the number of charter counties in Florida is now 20, not 12 as I originally reported. Those counties, which range in size from 30,771 (Wakulla) to 1,771,099 (Broward), account for more than 75 percent of Florida’s population. Charter counties allow the county voters more control over local matters, since decisions do not need to be referred to the Legislature for action.
Thank you, John Glenn, for bringing the inaccuracy to my attention–I have corrected the text.