Mayor David Alfin proposed raising council members' salary to reflect the amount of time and effort required for the job and to attract stronger candidates.
County Commissioners in Flagler County are paid $59,637. School Board members make $35,949. Meanwhile, Palm Coast City Council members are paid $9,600, while the mayor makes $11,400.
Mayor David Alfin believes that should change, and proposed during a City Council meeting March 1 that the city more than quadruple council salaries, by raising council members’ salaries to $44,670 and the mayoral salary to $46,470.
"We need to attract candidates who can share a smart and managed growth mentality, and we should appeal to people who can afford to give us their time and talents."
— DAVID ALFIN
The median council salary for similarly sized cities in Florida in 2019 exceeded $30,000, Alfin said, citing numbers from the Florida League of Cities.
“I realize that it’s a dubious proposition for elected officials to talk about pay raises,” Alfin said reading from a prepared statement at the end of the meeting, “but I hope you’ll give me a moment to convey my rationale for this conversation.”
People who think serving on the City Council is a hobby or part-time job are mistaken, Alfin said. In addition to attending council meetings, he said, council members set tax rates, review and approve the annual budget, define a future vision for the community, set objectives and priorities and attend meetings inside and outside the city.
“How much are our city council members worth to us? Where do we want to be on this issue?” he said.
He continued, “We need to attract candidates who can share a smart and managed growth mentality, and we should appeal to people who can afford to give us their time and talents — not only because they believe in service to their community, but also because they are suitably remunerated based on their commitment and responsibility and experience. I believe that raising salaries would expand our pool of qualified applicants.”
Councilman Ed Danko agreed, saying the change was long overdue..
“We will attract better candidates and we will attract better council people — not to say that you guys aren’t great — but we will attract the cream of the crop by increasing those salaries,” Danko said.
He added that a higher salary might also help persuade some potential candidates who’d otherwise be dissuaded by the costs associated with running for office.
“I’m absolutely in favor of doing this — as long as we don’t have to raise taxes to do it,” he said.
He added, “And thank you, Mr. Mayor, for having the courage to step forward and do this — because it’s not something that’s going to get you reelected, by asking for more money.”
Councilman Eddie Braanqinho was not convinced.
“The question is, will we do a better job here if we get paid more?” he said. “Would we get a bigger pool of people applying for a job? I don’t know, so, Mr. Mayor, I’m not in favor of raising our salaries.”
Councilman Nick Klufas supported Alfin’s proposal.
“Finding qualified candidates to fill our council is pf the utmost importance, and I think the public recognizes this,” Klufas said.
Council members voted 3-1, with Councilman Eddie Branquinho dissenting, to have city staff prepare an ordinance to that effect so that the council can hold a vote on it during a future council meeting.