Was $12,000 utility district stipend for council members justified?

Updated Oct 27, 2017
The exterior of the Riviera Beach Governmental Center. Council members by law couldn’t give themselves a raise without voter approval, so in 2015 they voted themselves a $12,000 annual stipend. Only KaShamba Miller-Anderson turned it down, calling it “greedy.” (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

For Riviera Beach council members to get raises, voter approval is required. But the council members didn’t need approval to vote themselves an annual $12,000 stipend in their role as board members of the city’s troubled utility district, in 2015.

The justification was they would be spending more time to deal with the crisis-ridden water system and attending one additional meeting per month.

Mayor Thomas Masters and Councilman Terence Davis declined the stipend at first — there was an election coming up for them in in 2016 — but later opted to take retroactively what they’d missed.

Davis caught up this year, having the city pay him 18 months’ worth, which with payroll taxes and employer retirement contributions came to $26,571. There wasn’t enough money in the city operating budget to pay him, so the council voted to shift money from a Utility District contingency account to cover it.

Only one council member, KaShamba Miller-Anderson, declined the stipend outright.

“I just didn’t think it was necessary,” she explained last week. “I do realize we are on the higher end as far as salary goes, when it comes to different elected officials. I just thought it was being kind of greedy, especially when this is supposed to be a part-time position.”