The math simply doesn’t add up

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All through his high school career, we were astounded at our son, especially when it came to mathematics.

We kept wondering if the genes he got that allowed him to make As in International Baccalaureate calculus class were some throwback to another generation, us being “word people” and so forth. I swear, to this day, I do not have the “math gene.”

My wife would often think of her engineer brother and suppose maybe our son got the same gene brother Gus had.

With all of this said, I can do simple math, otherwise, I’d not be employable and probably living under a rock. So, I’d like to offer the Board of County Commissioners a little math lesson today.

According to Florida Statute, 145.031, the board of county commissioners’ pay is set using a formula devised by the Florida Legislature. The statute lays out the formula using a county’s population and then, that number is multiplied by a formula in the statute. Under the statute, Clay County would fall under Group V, which governs counties with populations between 200,000 and 399,999. The statute further states that those salaries “shall be determined by multiplying the population in excess of the minimum for the grouping times the group rate.”

At the present, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates Clay County’s population to be 208,311, which means to figure our county commissioners salary, we would multiple 399,999 by 0.015, which comes to $5,999.98. On top of that figure can be added the recommended state base salary of $16,500 for an annual Clay County Commissioner salary of $22,498. Currently, based on the statute, with commissioners’ annual pay at $37,000 are already well paid for their part-time roles.

I offer up this simple math in response to a story that we ran last week in which a subcommittee of the Clay County Charter Review Commission seeks to raise county commissioner salaries to $70,000 a year, an 89 percent hike from the $37,000 a year they now get. Yes, 89 percent!

To understand the $37,000 a year salary, let’s step back to 2008. That charter amendment came about through a vote of the people. Charter Amendment No. 1 appeared on the general election ballot on November 4, 2008 and was passed with 69,602 yes votes for 82.83 percent of the vote compared to 14,423 votes or 17.17 percent for the no vote. To me, that’s a pretty loud voice from the voters.

Now, the Charter Review subcommittee hopes to take up the item with the full charter review commission, who will likely rubber stamp it and ask the Board of County Commissioners to place it on the ballot in 2018.

If I didn’t know any better, it seems like somebody in power is hoping Clay County voters have amnesia. They’re likely hoping that everyone will forget about this during the Christmas season and, by the time it gets on a ballot, they will have had time to spend money on it to make it sound like a good thing to the voters.

I’m having a hard time believing that no one on the county commission asked for the pay hike. After all, BCC members appoint the members of the Charter Review Commission. If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck. Sounds like someone is praying for a heaping helping of plausible deniability in his stocking from Santa this year.

Now, let’s reiterate the grounds on which the commissioners are asking for this. They’ve had County Auditor Mike Price write a memo stating how other counties’ commissioners’ salaries are higher and therefore, Clay County’s should be too. Didn’t your Daddy ever ask you, “If Johnny jumps off a bridge, are you going to jump off one too?”

We’re not St. Johns County. We’re a county of people who take pride in their votes and that their votes actually mean something; take for example, the elected versus hired school superintendent issue that was voted down three different occasions. The result: Clay County is one of only 20-plus counties in Florida that elect its school superintendent.

Price also made allusions to the infamous Sleepy Hollow illegal dumping scandal that led to a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe in early 2005 and a grand jury investigation, not to mention one county commissioner being removed from her seat and dragged through the mud. The cleanup of the site cost taxpayers $8.8 million and led to the resignation of former county manager Bob Wilson.

Price went on to say that the charter amendment to lower the salary was payback for the scandal. Pish posh. It’s called real conservatives living up to conservative principles instead of monkey logic that says, “The Joneses got a new Porsche and we only have a Cadillac. I want a Porsche.”

And that is simple math.

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Ken

The country commissioners are playing with fire here. Push this through and there will be a deserved house cleaning come election time.

Friday, December 22, 2017