By: Anne Geggis
Whether the City of Tamarac will hire part-time, paid “legislative aides” to assist each commissioner will be heading for a commission workshop discussion this Monday.
This time — the third discussion since February about adding personal help for city commissioners overwhelmed by their workloads — the city staff is likely to have some estimates of how much it will cost for the part-time commissioners to get paid assistance with reaching out to city residents.
Commissioner Mike Gelin said at a workshop last week he already knows it will cost $25,000 to $30,000 for each aide.
“You can just Google it,” Gelin said.
“Thank you for your opinion,” Mayor Michelle Gomez said.
Currently, city codes prohibit personal “legislative aides” for commission members from being paid. But the majority of the commissioners said they need paid help they can depend on.
“I am drowning in follow-ups and referrals,” said Vice Mayor Debra Placko.
At the last workshop earlier this month, the topic set off fireworks that had Gomez wishing aloud she could turn off Commissioner Marlon Bolton’s microphone.
“We can do it right here, right now,” Bolton said, about changing city code to allow commissioner to have paid help. Later he said he would give up his car allowance for the help. “It’s already budgeted for,” he said.
He declined to comment further Tuesday.
Gomez directed the Lerenzo Calhoun, the city human resources director, to research how much it would cost to hire the part-time help. Calhoun said he would also work with the city attorney to begin drafting an ordinance to allow the paid help.
The amount of assistance local elected officials get varies greatly, not always in proportion to municipality size. Coral Springs, population 133,000, has one person assisting the commission, compared to five full-timers in Miramar, a city with a population of 140,000.
The discussion, during which “legislative aide” was sometimes confused with “administrative assistant” drove Gomez to exasperation.
“Holy sh—“ she said, at one point, and then, “Jiminey Crickets.”
Bolton replied, “Jiminey Crickets is not holy.”
Anne Geggis has been a newspaper reporter for 30 years, most recently at the Sun Sentinel. She graduated from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., with a double major in journalism and sociology.