By: Sharon Aron Baron
Tamarac city commissioners receive generous car allowances for tooling around in their small districts, but after researching what other Broward County commissioners make, some taxpayers are being taken for a ride.
City commissioners in Tamarac earn around $29,000 annually. On top of this, as well a a host of other benefits, they receive a $700 monthly car allowance to get around a city that’s only 12 square miles. This is enough to fill a tank over 14 times, or make payments on a pretty expensive car.
What’s even more shocking is that Tamarac commissioners aren’t even paid the most in Broward County for their car allowances as once thought. The City of Lauderhill has them beat with a whopping $950 monthly car allowance for the mayor and commissioners. Lauderhill commissioners earn around $29,000 annually as well, and both cities have roughly the same population, however, Lauderhill only has 8.5 square miles.
Mayor Richard Kaplan confirmed that Lauderhill is even smaller than Tamarac, at only nine square miles, but because it is diagonal, he said that they must drive through other cities to get to portions of their city.
“We do not have districts like Tamarac so we do drive the entire city. But most importantly, we drive the tri-county area quite a bit,” he said.
Does the commission in Lauderhill drive substantially more than, say, commissioners in Pembroke Pines who have the largest city with 34 square miles, yet receive no car allowances? They may also have to drive occasionally to Palm Beach or Miami as well.
Even Fort Lauderdale commissioners who oversee the city with the highest population of all in Broward County don’t receive a car allowance.
In third place is Parkland whose Mayor and commissioners tell their voters they only earn $200 a month salary, but forget to tell them that they also make a$593.92 monthly car allowance. A change in their charter to raise their salaries will go to the voters in November so it can be more in line with what other city commissioners earn, however, if that’s passed, will they still keep their hefty auto allowances?
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car driven for business is 56 cents per mile. I believe we should go back to this method, and elected officials should be reimbursed for each mile they drive on official city business.
There is no reason why we should be paying our commission enough money to pay for car payments, gas and insurance. The car allowance should help the Mayor or Commissioner compensate them for mileage on their car, not the very car that they drive.
Running for office this November? Then abolish this excessive car allowance.
The chart depicts figures from the city clerk’s offices of their respective cities that we requested information on. Dania Beach city commission has a general expense allowance of $6,000 annually. It is not specifically allocated as a car allowance.