MANATEE -- Manatee County commissioners recently received a $272 annual pay raise.
But Commission Chairman Carol Whitmore told the board Tuesday she wanted to give the raise back to the county because other county employees have not enjoyed raises this year.
She also encouraged other commissioners to give theirs back, too.
However, in trying to give the money back, Whitmore has encountered a stumbling block: It would cost money in staff costs to honor her request, according to R.B. “Chips” Shore, Manatee County clerk of circuit court and comptroller.
“There are no clear rules as to how a commissioner may refuse the increase,” he wrote in an email that also listed commissioners’ salaries at $75,079 a year, up $272 from $74,807 last year.
“Since we were just advised of their wanting to do this, we have a problem, as the first salary payments have been made,” Shore wrote.
Part of the cost would involve going back into the records, and reporting changes to the Internal Revenue Service, he said later, adding that it was “a huge mess.”
Late in the day, Whitmore said she would donate the amount of the raise she has already received to charity, requesting that the rest not be paid to her.
Another commissioner, Michael Gallen, said he planned to give the money to charity.
“Since the county commission does not set its own salary, and it is done through a formula set by state statute, I was surprised to learn that our salary was increased,” Gallen wrote in an email.
“The county comptroller advised the board it would cost more to undo, so I would follow this advice,” he added.
Commissioner Robin DiSabatino said in an email that she had requested not to receive the increase.
State law requires the Florida Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research calculate salary adjustments each year for constitutional officers, then notify them of any changes in their pay, according to Renee Watters, chief of public information for the Florida Department of Revenue. The amount of the raise is based on the consumer price index, population of the county and other factors.
Watters also noted that during the past legislative session, a law was passed that allows officers to refuse the adjustment if they wish.
The law, which went into effect July 1, authorizes each county commissioner, circuit court clerk, county comptroller, sheriff, supervisor of elections, property appraiser and tax collector to reduce his or her salary on a voluntary basis, according to the Legislature’s website.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031.