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Scrubbing Sexism: Scott Signs Bill Awarding Big Raise to Supervisors of Election

| March 30, 2016

kaiti lenhart

Kaiti Lenhart, Flagler County’s elections supervisor, will receive a raise in the range of $18,000 come Oct. 1. (© FlaglerLive)

County supervisors of elections will see their salaries rise, under a bill signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Rick Scott.

Without comment, Scott’s office announced that he had signed the legislation (SB 514), which supporters say is aimed at bringing supervisors’ pay into line with other county constitutional officers — a group of elected officials that includes tax collectors, property appraisers and clerks of circuit court.

Supporters argue the lower pay rate was a legacy of an earlier era, when women held the overwhelming majority of supervisors’ offices. Most supervisors are still women.

In Flagler County, Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart is paid $98,766, the lowest salary among constitutional officers (other than school board members and county commissioners). The clerk of court, the property appraiser and the tax collector are each paid $117,000. The sheriff is paid $126,000.

Scott’s approval of the bill was not a surprise. After a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, Scott indicated to reporters he would sign the legislation.

“I think they’ve done a good job,” the governor said in response to a question on the bill. “I think it’s the right thing to do.”

According to legislative analyses, the bill is expected to increase pay to supervisors by a total of $1.2 million, or an average of $18,540 per county. The average pay raise would be 18.7 percent.

The bill passed the Senate in a 36-4 vote early this month. But it ran into trouble in the House, where fiscal conservatives clashed with members of both parties who supported increasing the pay rate to bring equity to the system and to acknowledge the difficulty of the supervisors’ jobs.

The debate in the House split both parties before lawmakers voted 58-54 to approve the legislation. Most of the members of the House’s GOP majority — 46 — opposed the bill, as did eight Democrats.

“We need to make sure that this office is respected, just as we respect the office of sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser,” said Rep. Gayle Harrell, a Stuart Republican and supporter of the legislation.

But opponents said the bill would give some officials special treatment at a time when salary increases for state workers have been scant — though the money for the supervisors’ pay would come from county budgets.

There was no across-the-board pay increase for state workers in a new budget approved this month and signed into law by Scott, though some workers in select categories will receive a boost.

“This (the supervisors of elections bill) is nothing more than politicians feeding politicians by giving pay raises to other elected officials,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach. “And frankly, if we’re going to do pay raises, I say we do them across the board for all state workers and not pick out a select group of people.”

The bill takes effect Oct. 1.

–Brandon Larrabee, News Service of Florida

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2 Responses for “Scrubbing Sexism: Scott Signs Bill Awarding Big Raise to Supervisors of Election”

  1. Rick G says:

    They deserve the raise especially in light of the other Constitution Officers. These people are entrusted with the very essence of a democracy. Good for them.

  2. Dave P says:

    First I’d like to say that our current SOE Kaiti Lenhart deserves that raise. As well as needing to make her way up to throne of the others. Being in this county since 1998, and working for this county, I can say other then one other SOE, I haven’t seen the office run so much better and smooth. That comes from a damn good leader and communicator. Also She had an appreciation reception late last year for her dedicated staff and poll workers. Again something that I haven’t seen or heard other departments do. I was impressed, So much it made me become a poll worker for Flagler County for the first time. I can say that the whole process to becoming a poll worker, training, and working the elections has been an awesome event. Again so much that I will be returning to the precinct to work the Primary, & General Elections. So I ask you to come out support this SOE Kaiti Lenhart, get her elected and let’s start to turn this county around. This office is run with Professionalism, Perfection, Pride, and caring staff and SOE.

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