See What Your City Pays Commissioners: How Much Is Too Much?





With city commission salaries in Broward County ranging from $1,800 to $40,634-a-year, how much is too much to pay commissioners?

Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Dean Trantalis wants an answer.



Dean Trantalis




Trantalis believes his city is paying too little at $30,000 annually, but doesn’t know how much they should be paid.

Maybe $15,000 more, bringing the salary up to $45,000. Maybe something else. Trantalis is not sure…yet.

Broward’s city commission salaries vary widely.

The pay ranges from $1,800 in Lighthouse Point and Hillsboro Beach to $40,634 in Sunrise.

Trantalis says that paying commissioners more would allow “people of modest means” to run for office.

There is little evidence for Trantalis’ argument.

Sunrise pays the highest. Yet three out of the five Sunrise Commissioners are lawyers, unlikely to be swayed to run for office by the Commission’s $40,634 salary.

Joseph Scuotto is the dean of the Commission and one of the non-lawyers. A restaurant owner, Scuotto has held office since 1997 when the salaries were much lower.


Joey Scuotto in his restaurant

Larry Sofield, another non-lawyer, runs a small business installing real estate signs for Realtors.

Three of the five Sunrise commissioners earn between $50-100,000 from their day jobs, according to disclosure forms. Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan, a lawyer, earns more than $100,000 annually. The fifth member, elected last year, hasn’t filed a disclosure yet.

During the debate at a Fort Lauderdale Commission meeting last month, Commissioners decided only to study the pay hike issue.

The discussion featured the usual whining heard from office holders: The jobs are supposed to be part time, but are really full time.

Of course, what they don’t say is a lot of their extra work is meeting with people they need to keep them in office – lobbyists, business types and campaign contributors.

The posts are intended to be part time. For a reason.

Commissioners should be anchored in their communities. The positions were not designed to create career politicians, whose only colleagues are lobbyists, campaign contributors and bureaucrats.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what Congress has become.

“Serving in public office has become the prerogative of people of means,” Trantalis said.

He is right.

Many of those running have above average incomes because those are the people who can afford the time it takes to campaign and serve. The median household income in Broward, according to the county’s Demographics & Statistics staff, is $53,076.

Trantalis is wrong, however, that having public office packed with people of means is something new.

Bewigged, landed aristocrats founded this country.  They had lofty ideals and even loftier bank accounts.

Take the three candidates currently running for Fort Lauderdale mayor, which pays $35,000.

Charlotte Rodstrom, who was a City Commissioner, lives in a house in east Fort Lauderdale valued at $1.715 million. It would surely sell for a lot, lot more.

Jim Lewis, a Fort Lauderdale attorney who has run for everything too many times to remember, opened his campaign using a home address in the beachfront Harbor Beach neighborhood. The house is one block from the ocean.

Bruce Roberts, the former police chief and now a City Commissioner, gladly cashes his $30,000 commission check. He also cashes checks from three private retirement accounts and a police pension.

It was Roberts who pointed out that running for office is more than just a salary. It’s a way to serve the public, he said.

I’ve been around politicians my entire life. The good ones first ran for office believing they could change their community for the better.

The ones who ran for a bigger paycheck? They were driven by the desire to better their own lives, not necessarily the lives of their neighbors.

Will city’s get better commissioners by paying them more?

You decide. After all, you put them in office.




Below are the commission salaries in Broward County compiled by Fort Lauderdale City Hall, May, 2017. How much does your city pay?


20 Responses to “See What Your City Pays Commissioners: How Much Is Too Much?”

  1. Ari says:

    For the job they are doing, they are overpaid now.

  2. S. T. chrisopher says:

    Trump reminds us that a lot of who run have enormous egos. Satisfying the needs of that ego is all that is required by them. The money is superfluous

  3. Sidewinder 66 says:

    Dean Trantalis forgets that the modest salary is supplemented by the benefits such as medical insurance, a pension, expenses, a paid secretary, an aide and free entrance to a lot of events are things that average people can’t obtain.

  4. ABC@123 says:

    Sidewinder confuses cost to the city with benefit to the elected.

    They are correct on health insurance, although many electeds have other jobs which provide health insurance. Pensions are based on salary. Someone who serves for 8 years in the State Pension System would receive 8 x 3% of let’s say $18,000. the pension would therefore be 24% of $18,000, or $4,320. Not a lot.

    Anyone who uses the secretary and/or aide and or expenses for anything other than City business would face civil fines and potential criminal charges. Of course their staff should deal with government business issues.

    Elected officials are generally prohibited from free entrance to a lot of events that average people can’t obtain. There are a few exceptions. Their City may pay for them to attend a League of Cities dinner, or something similar. Those are normally awful, boring functions that officials really don’t want to go to anyhow, but think they must.

    I offer no opinion on what is a fair salary, I’m just clarifying that many of the perceived perks really aren’t.

  5. Former Republican Bruce Roberts says:

    4 municipal pay checks? Going for Mayor which will be a raise from his Commission salary. Then if they raise all their salaries it will be a double raise for Roberts.

    No wonder he left the Republican Party, not a place for pension hogs and career politicians.


    Roberts will not get any raise unless he is elected mayor, if a pay increase is agreed upon it will take effect after the election.

  6. What about says:

    What about the county commission salaries? Those are part-time positions too, right Buddy?


    Absolutely. They are grossly overpaid for a part time job at roughly $95,000 annually, plus benefits.

  7. Sea ranch lakes says:

    Perfect salary!

    These commissioners are making more than some teachers and more than a lot of full time working people.
    It is not supposed to be your employment. I realize it takes more time than the one meeting every other week but come on.
    I’m sure the 3 attorneys on the commission have seen their private practice soar, pay to play no matter how much they get paid.
    And it doesn’t matter the business, a long gone commissioner was a lawn man who then got the service of every developer in town and a cleaning person who started getting a bunch of commercial business.

  8. Check again says:

    Some commenters may not know that the elected officers’ class is completely different from regular FRS; it is more generous, with electeds contributing a significantly smaller percentage of the state’s ultimate liability. Check out this recent legislative analysis:

  9. I don't want a moonlighter comish says:

    If you want part time mayors and commissioners who rely on beurocrats to inform them on everything and have little time for their duties cause they are so busy they cannot connect with their constituents then pay them peanuts. Perhaps the biggest city in Broward should have more than one commissioner whose only job is city commissioner because he has so many public pensions. It would be nice if our city were led by people who were dedicated to their most important job and did not have focus so much time to other better paying interests. The trade off for a bump in salary and more dedication to the job is worth it to the citizens.
    Is this obfuscation for the city managers request for a salary bump on Tuesday?

  10. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Plantation’s …mayor’s annual salary is $117,221 and a $350 monthly car allowance. The mayor and council members also receive a cell phone and an iPad.


    Plantation Mayor is a strong mayor who is responsible for running the city. The other mayors in Broward are little more than commissioners with some added duties and powers.

  11. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @10 Buddy – According to your own table, Sea Ranch Lakes also has a strong mayor, and the paycheck there is ZERO.


    Not my table. The table was compiled by the City of Fort Lauderdale.

    Sea Ranch Lakes is hardly a comparison or an example. It is essentially incorporated to provided police protection to the well-to-do living in the beachfront community and to prevent it from being annexed by neighboring cities.

    There are 670 residents in the Village of Sea Ranch Lakes largely living in one gated community. It is totally surrounded by Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Much of the village’s budget goes to police protection. Totally surrounded by walls, all the property is owned by the Sea Ranch Lakes Beach Club. Thus, the police are empowered to keep out pesky outsiders.

    The Sea Ranch Lakes Beach Club takes care of most of the community needs such as maintenance paying for them with membership fees and the tiny tax base (The village has one small shopping center). Members of the club and residents of the village can vote on all major issues.

    Thus, Sea Ranch Lakes is highly unique in Broward.

  12. Payemabuck says:

    Pay em a dollar a year and you have a chance of attracting some highly successful peolple who want to give back to the community. Try to make a job out of it and you get someone like Cindi Hutchinson who sells out to the developers and ends up in prison for taking payoffs…..


    The pay has little to do with corruption. I’ve seen well-off corrupt politicians and corrupt politicians with modest incomes.

    For example Josephus Eggelletion Jr. was a Broward county commissioner paid a top salary for an part time Broward elected official. He still ended up in prison doing time for money laundering and unlawful compensation (bribery).

    There is never enough money for people who are corrupt.

  13. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Despite being grossly overpaid, many if not most of these elected officials simply never respond to emails sent directly to them from their constituents.

    This would be a very interesting topic for an investigative reporter to research, using open records requests to access all the email traffic of commissioners.

    The Jack Seiler approach (ignore citizens completely, but always wear your strongest professional kneepads to any and all meetings with developers) is very typical here.

  14. Bruce Roberts would get a raise says:

    If Bruce Roberts goes from Commission to Mayor on the graph above, he gets a $5000 raise. If they vote for an overall raise for the Commission and Mayor as proposed which I believe would take place after the next election, he could get a second raise if elected Mayor. On top off it all he would get more money for his pension.

    Nice gig if you can get it.

  15. Charles King says:

    You’ve got to take Dean with a grain of salt. For every instance he speaks up as the only not bought and paid for voice on the Fort Lauderdale Commission, there are some real stinker ideas as well. Like the time Dean tried to ban fishing on the beach because some eccentric wealthy woman thought fishing was cruel to fish, his willingness the permit an unlawful vagrant encampment to exist free from ordinances at the center of our city, his willingness to have pot dispensary everywhere or this current stinker idea about raising the pay of the worst Mayor and City Commission in recent history. Dean’s sold out colleagues on the dais probably enjoy all the “we don’t get paid enough directly to rule of neighbors” talk but something tells me Judy Stern isn’t about to let her bots raise their salaries right before an election, certainly not when she has to find a way to drag a loser candidate like Bruce “the pension pirate” Roberts across a low turnout election finish line.

  16. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    First of all the mayor pay in Ft.Lau should be 50,000 thou per year. As far as the commissioners pay. I would bump it up to 35,000 thou. That is it. to pay them (comm) what I have been hearing 48 thou is absurd. Th ecurrent pay attracted Dean Trantalis (30thou) but he belives the pay is now not generating enough interest(put the pay was enough for him-right). This notion that th epay increase would attract a better variety of people is BS. Then the jab that Comm.Roberts and his pensions. No one seems to also remind the residents is the fact that he EARNED those pensions. Also cheap shot Char. Rodstrom lives in a 1.7 mill dollar house(what only the grand wizard gets to live in nice shin-digs) 9What eastern airlines Frank Lorenzo should have gotten her hous e as well(she was a flight att. for eastern when CEO Frank Lorenzo sold the company and her and others where left w/ nothing(yes). So enough bs about her house. So good luck to both. By the way neither Bruce Roberts or Charlotte Rodstrom support this pay increase….Again th e irony here is the pay was good enough for Dean here but now its tooo low. Get better reasoning Dean . Bottom line 35g for comm. 50g for Mayor……

  17. Just my two cents says:

    It seems to me that Dean’s point is that only those who are self-employed, independently wealthy, or retired can serve the public for the compensation offered. I understand it’s not a “job” but I doubt there any many qualified people whose employers will allow them 2 days a month off or a day or two a week off from their jobs to meet as a commission or meet with constituents, staff, etc.
    Point of clarification, the City does not pay its elected officials a “pension.”

  18. Real Deal says:

    You get what you pay for. Assholes.

  19. DoNotTurnThisIntoNJ says:

    PLEASE do not turn our wonderful place into New Jersey. What should they be paid? ZERO! It should be a volunteer job. Thousands of people work FAR harder as a volunteer! Paid? What’s next? $12k a year in property taxes for a tiny junk house, like in New Jersey. We need to nip this in the bud right now!

  20. Plantation Working Mom says:

    Time for Plantation to vote the “strong mayor” set-up OUT! Several other cities of same population don’t have Strong Mayors and are run much better than Plantation. Obviously, the Strong Mayor setup is failing and needs to change! I am not opposed to commissioners being paid a salary for their time and contribution.