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Manatee County gets swallowed up in raise-gate

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  • | 3:38 a.m. October 21, 2011
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A brouhaha bellowed in Manatee County recently, when the seven county commissioners faced a thorny question: to accept or reject a state-mandated $272 raise, which would bump each commissioner's annual salary to $75,079.

Part of the issue — and this can only happen in government — is it actually would cost more than $272 for commissioners to outright reject the raise. That's because some of the raise was already paid, so county staff would need to redo local record and Internal Revenue Service paperwork, according to the county clerk's office.

The .3% raise stems from a state law that calculates salary adjustments every year for constitutional officers based on factors that include population and the consumer price index.

Commission Chairwoman Carol Whitmore nonetheless rejected her raise, saying she would instead give it to a local nonprofit. She says because county employees didn't get a raise this fiscal year, she shouldn't either.

Most other commissioners agreed with Whitmore.

Commissioner Joe McClash, however, decided to take the raise, and in doing so, he took a shot at Whitmore. “Carol was trying to make herself look popular by contributing a small increase of about $300 back to the County if she could refuse the increase,” writes McClash in an Oct. 13 email to other commissioners.

McClash also defended the extra pay, saying it goes toward a news website he founded. “The money I receive as a County Commissioner helps (offset) the money needed to publish The Bradenton Times,” writes McClash. “It is a direct deposit to the account. I do this because I feel it is a news product needed in our community.”

Whitmore fought back in an email response to McClash. “How dare you insult me,” Whitmore writes, “but I would never expect anything less from you.”

Adds Whitmore: “Quit being (a) bully.”


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