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Columbia County Observer

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Lake City News

Lake City Manager proposing 3% raise for City Council members and others in FRS

Lake City's City Manager, Wendell Johnson, will have the City Council deciding Monday night whether or not to give the City's elected officials, that is themselves, and employees enrolled in the FRS (Florida Retirement System) a 3% pay raise to make up for the newly passed state law, which requires those enrolled in the state retirement system to pay 3% of their salary into their retirement plan.

City Manager Johnson is calling this his "Florida Retirement System Adjustment Proposal" and is claiming that the change in the state law will result in a 3% reduction in employee and elected official's salaries.

Mr. Johnson said, "The suggested item for consideration is an increase for those affected employees and elected officials' compensation to offset that state-mandated reduction in pay."

The City determines the salaries

The City determines the salaries for its employees. The new state-mandated employee retirement contribution, which goes into effect July 1st, is deducted from the employees gross salary, which will have the effect of reducing the employees take home pay.

Had the state legislature not required this contribution, Florida would have been the only state, starting January 1, 2011, "where no one in the state retirement system is asked to contribute toward their pension. Two states -- Virginia and Missouri -- recently switched their retirement system meaning new hires will have to pay toward their retirement, but not existing employees. Michigan doesn't force its employees to participate either, but that state has a more private-sector-like 401(k) program. And Tennessee and Utah still do not require many of their state employees to contribute toward retirement, although other employees in those states do." (St. Petersburg Times)

Only those in the FRS get the raise

Only those employees and elected officials enrolled in the Florida Retirement System would be eligible for the raise in City Manager Johnson’s plan.

According to Mr. Johnson, Monday night's City Council meeting is the only opportunity for the City Council to consider the pay raise before the state-mandated change goes into effect.

Mr. Johnson said, "This course of action, if taken, could provide for a transition period for all affected parties."

Last week, Lakeshore Hosp Auth Board members addressed the 3%

At the last Lakeshore Hospital Authority meeting Hospital Authority Manager, Jack Berry, suggested that the Authority employees be given a pay raise, which would make up for their newly state-mandated retirement contribution.

Board Member Marc Vann said that some folks were saying that “contributing to your own [retirement] is a pay cut, which it isn’t.” Mr. Vann continued, “In the private sector, if we put money into our retirement, we don’t look at it as a pay cut, we look at it as contributing.”

LSHA Board member and Columbia Bank President, Bruce Naylor, said he agreed with Mr. Vann. "That works around the whole intent of that [the new law]. That's the whole reason for the contribution."

Mr. Naylor said, "It [the raise] is being sold the wrong way, because the state changed their system, you don't want the girls to lose the money. That's not it. If you think they are not being fairly compensated then tell me."

Tonight, the City Council gets their turn at the plate when City Manager Wendell Johnson’s 3% plan goes before the City Council.

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On June 20, 2011, Ron Buchner of Lake City wrote [Mr. Buchner's comment also refers to the article, Governor Rick Scott vs. Big Bird ]:

Come on people, it's time to wake up and realize our economy is in shambles. Cuts must be made somewhere, but everyone says don't touch my special interest.

If we don't make the cuts the inevitable will happen. Everyone will suffer when the government defaults.

According to the PBS stations, it is only 10% of their total revenue. Does anyone think the public in general has not taken a 10% decrease in their revenue? If you think not, you have been hiding under a rock. Just take a look at property values, or the number of people unemployed, or the people who were forced to take a job for less than they were earning. And no one wants to cut 10% from PBS? Give me a break.

Then the city manager wants to increase pay to make up for state mandated contributions to employees' retirement. Everyone in the private sector either completely funds or contributes to their own retirement plan, why shouldn't public employees.

It's not like they earn less than anyone else. In fact, add in all their benefits and most are better off than private sector employees. Let the governor make the cuts he sees fit to cut. All of us in private business have made them.        Ron Buchner

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On June 20, 2011, RD from Lake City wrote:

The police officers and the firemen that work for the City of Lake City have to pay 5% toward their retirement. Will the City give them a 5% raise, since they are proposing to give the other City workers a 3% raise for their loss?          RD

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On June 20, 2011, RTB from Lake City wrote:

Does this mean the police chief will receive a third or fourth raise in less than 2 years?( already making about $82,000 per year)                  RTB

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On June 20, 2011, after the City Council meeting, a "Life in Lake City" wrote:

Where has the City Manager been? Has the smoke from the Florida fires clouded his vision? His idea on a salary increase is unfair and discriminatory. Council members Moses and Ward were not around tonight for the council meeting and that was good.  Maybe Mr. Johnson will let this item burn itself out and this will not resurface.

 

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