Chamber Backs Pay Raises For Commissioners
Written by Eric Kalis on August 31, 2006
By Eric Kalis
The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce is shedding its longstanding reluctance to get involved in local politics by urging members to vote Tuesday in favor of hefty pay raises for Miami-Dade County commissioners.
The chamber’s advocacy group released results of a survey of its members last week that shows strong support for increasing the salary of commissioners from $6,000 to $89,000. Of 100 respondents, 89 said they are in favor of a pay raise for commissioners.
Chamber officials will send the results of the survey along with a detailed position paper supporting a salary increase to all of its members to promote the initiative, said Phillis Oeters, chairwoman of the advocacy group.
"We want to see commissioners be able to afford to spend as much time as feasible on the county," she said. "[Making] $6,000 plus benefits does not put food on the table."
Having the support of chamber members is crucial for the ballot question’s passage, Ms. Oeters said, especially after pay raises have been voted down several times in past elections. She said she expects a healthy turnout that should bode well for proponents of a salary increase.
Miami lobbyist Bob Levy said the 16 judicial races should help attract voters. That would be an advantage for passage of the pay-raise question, he said.
"When dealing with an issue rather than an election, the people who show up in a low turnout are generally there to vote against something," Mr. Levy said.
On the other hand, a lower turnout typically would involve informed voters who know commission pay here is way below that in other urban counties, said Sonny Holtzman, a Miami lawyer and advisor for the Democratic party. "If there is a huge turnout, that would bring a wave of people against raising taxes or increasing salaries," he said.