Springfield Commissioners Looking To Cut Their Own Salaries - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Springfield Commissioners Looking To Cut Their Own Salaries

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Springfield commissioners held the second of three city workshops today to talk about how to recover their suffering budget.

Commissioners are willing to cut their own salaries, but they are also moving towards implementing a property tax.

At the last meeting they talked about all the possibilities, including what the process might be for dissolving the city or even just parts of it.

The commission mentioned the idea of outsourcing the police or fire departments to Bay County, but realized for the same level of service, that option would cost the tax payers even more.

Commissioners decided instead to direct city department heads to start forming their budgets for next year, so they can determine the deficit.

Then, they would implement an ad valorem property tax rate which would help recoup the budget deficit.

Commissioners were on board with the idea, saying although they won't have the exact rates figured for months to come; they want to vote on the idea of implementing a tax, so there is more confidence heading in to the budget planning process.

"This gives me the backing incase the governor calls or something and ask what are you doing to get out of your problem, well we got the ad valorem, water rates went up," said Mayor Ralph Hammond. "It gives me a little more back bone and meat to make a decision with."

Hammond says they will look to cut all costs possible, including their own salaries and benefits, before they determine the ad valorem rate.

The city attorney has been tasked with drawing up a proposal that will dramatically change the way the current and future elected officials are paid.

"With our budget crunch, this shows the citizens we are willing to give along with them."

Salary and benefits for elected officials in Springfield account for about $122,000 in the budget.

"It should have never gotten this high," said Hammond.

An ordinance passed in 2007 set commissioner to ear salaries of about out $500 a month and the mayor $700. Since then, each year when the other city employees were given a percentage salary raise, the elected officials were too.

"To me, 11 months out of the year we are probably well over paid," said Commissioner Phillip Dykes.

The commissioners currently make about $1,300 and the mayor makes about $1,500 per month.

The commission proposed cutting their own salaries down to $500 and the mayor to $700 a month. They will also no longer pay for benefits or retirement for elected officials.

"I just can't see an elected official getting paid benefits, even in cities with city managers they don't get paid benefits," said Hammond.

Commissioner Dykes and Mayor Hammond both said they would cut their own benefits, but Commissioner John Gibson relies on his for health insurance. They are planning to grandfather him in, but not provide that service to any future new-comers.

"I've got a real concern about elected officials received all the benefits, its supposed to be a part time job, its an elected place," said Hammond.

The city attorney will draft an ordinance to vote on at the next meeting, if the salary reduction is approved it would save the city about $68,000 annually, not including the money that will be saved on benefits.