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All City Workers To Get $15hr – Almost; City Council Confused About Other City Raises

photo of City Council with caption: More confusion at the city counci. Now it's raises for city workers

LAKE CITY, FL – The City Council’s devolvement into confusion continued late yesterday afternoon at its delayed 12th-hour so-called budget workshop. One item settled was that all City workers would get brought up the $15 hr minimum wage ahead of the state-mandated schedule. However, Councilman Greene was unclear on what he wanted to do about the minimum wage for school crossing guards and a few other low-wage workers.

Once again, the meeting turned into a Councilman Sampson – Deputy Mayor Greene show, with Mayor Witt and Councilmen Jefferson and Hill barely making any contribution.

While the budget presented was the Interim City Manager's budget, Mayor Witt guided the budget rundown. It is not clear why Interim Manager Fields did not present her budget.

Kick Off
Councilman Sampson Wants $15hr Now

Lake City Council Chamber
Community members showed up for the meeting.

The workshop was kicked off by Mayor Witt asking if any of the Councilmen had statements.

Councilman Sampson took the microphone. He wanted 15 dollars an hour, now.

Councilman Sampson (abridged): "The market is shifting. The public hiring market is shifting. Private industry is paying a higher wage at the entry level. We will lose good people to flip hamburgers, which is ridiculous. At the very lowest level, we should be paying a $15 minimum wage… We need to make the change immediately. We need to look at the people in the $15-$30hr range. We want to make sure that we are addressing that…."

Mayor Witt asked, “Is that consensus?”

Councilman Greene agreed. He said, "I would agree with Mr. Sampson. I just don't know how do we handle that middle section. When we bring our minimum wage to 15 for the City, and you have the compression that happens in the middle incomes, how do we handle that here in this meeting?"

The City Council couldn't. The Council can't vote at workshops, and the meeting was noticed as a workshop. If the meeting had been noticed as a "special" meeting to discuss and decide budget issues, voting would not have been a problem: someone could have made a motion; then someone would second it; then the City Council discusses the item and votes.

However, the fly in the ointment is once the meeting is announced and noticed as a special meeting, the public must be given a chance to comment.

No one on the Council or City Attorney Koberlein recognized the necessity for this workshop meeting to be a “special” meeting.

Councilman Greene Highlights Crossing Guards
Gets Minimum Wage Wrong

Councilman Greene mentioned that he had discovered 8 City employees earning under $11hr an hour. Four who are crossing guards earn $9.875 and work under the auspices of the LCPD).

Mr. Greene said, “That's eight positions that don't meet the $11 minimum, which is what we have to meet in this budget. I would look to make sure that we take care of those eight positions and make sure that we are complying with the law.”

Mr. Greene had his facts wrong. The law requires that on September 30, 2021, the Florida minimum wage is $10hr. It is not clear if Mr. Greene desired those eight positions to be at the state minimum or the City minimum, which the Council agreed (without a vote) should be $15hr.

No one questioned Mr. Greene’s intent.

Mr. Sampson continued: "I have an idea. We know the average of what the raise will be. We can take the people making less than 15. We can average out. Say this is their dollar amount increase. What we could do in the interim is say – cut it off. Say, maybe in the 15 to 20 range, they get the same dollar amount increase that this group gets. That way, you have the same spread between them. I think that would be pretty easy to do."

Mr. Greene agreed, “I think Mr. Sampson has got a good idea. Where would you cap that off? Would you cap that off at directors? Would you cap that off at assistant directors?”

Mr. Sampson answered: “In my idea, I would do that straight across the salary line. To me -- 60,000. If you're making more than 60,000, then you're probably excluded from this raise. I think that's the easiest way to do it… So, I would cap it – say 30 bucks an hour. And I think if we take that average raise that these guys get and it's extrapolated across that group, I think Donna could come up with that number pretty easily.”

No one asked the finance director [Donna Duncan] how easy this would be. It is not so easy.

Mr. Jefferson wanted clarification, “Let me be clear. Are we saying then that the mandatory minimum of 15 -- we are going to resolve that here?”

Mayor Witt responded, “Right. Then, the next group would get that amount of raise that got them to the 15.”

Mr. Sampson agreed, "That's right. So, let's say the dollar raise is $2 an hour. Then we take everybody that falls in that other range, and they would get the same dollar amount raise, not percentage -- dollar amount. I think that's the easiest way to handle compression.”

Mayor Witt concluded the conversation, “I do, too.”

It wasn’t clear how Councilmen Jefferson or Hill felt about the issue.

For now, "I do, too," seemed to be the conclusion without a vote.

The Dilemma

With the clock winding down on the City budget deadlines, all of which are mandated by Florida statutes, is the pay increase based on $30hr, which is $62,400 per year, or $60,000 per year, which is $28.85hr?


If the meeting were a "special" meeting, this reporter would have asked about both the crossing guards and the $30hr vs. $60,000yr pay issue.

This new City Council, lead by Councilman Greene, is not enamored with anyone asking questions it doesn't control.

Early this morning, your reporter emailed the City Clerk for clarification and a solution on the $30hr vs. $60,000yr issue.

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