Some mayors in South Florida are working for free, others are paid handsomely.
Executive salaries, even in the public sector, have increased over the years. And in at least one instance, they have skyrocketed into the $300,000 range.
Wilton Manors' Gary Resnick, at $9,000 a year, said he's losing money on his mayoral gig.
“The amount of time I spend on city business does detract from my ability to practice law,” said Resnick. “So yes, it is a lose, lose situation.”
Resnick said he didn’t get into public service for the money and enjoys being mayor, despite the low pay.
Noah Jacobs, mayor of tiny Biscayne Park, is probably Miami-Dade's lowest paid mayor at $4,000 a year.
North Miami Mayor Andre Pierre's annual salary is $48,000. Mayor of Hialeah Carlos Hernandez is earning $150,000.
Many of the mayors in South Florida are known as “weak mayors.” They serve as the city's ambassador and have administrators run the day-to-day operations. A “strong mayor,” is the ambassador and runs the day-to-day operations.
“I'm a true executive. I'm not a figurehead kind of mayor,” said Miami-Dade’s strong mayor Carlos Gimenez. “It's my responsibility to run the administration, all directors, they all report directly to me. I'm the one who has to hire them and fire them.”
Gimenez earns about $150,000 and campaigned on a promise to slash the mayor's salary in half. Gimenez oversees one of the country's largest local governments, comparable in size to Los Angeles or Chicago. In the west Miami-Dade city of Sweetwater, Manny Marono also runs the day to day operations.
At $95,000 a year, he says he's not underpaid, but given his workload, the position is underpaid.
“I do it because I love my city, I do it because I want my kids to grow up here,” Marono said. “I have to pay for my kids school, so I need a salary. So taking myself out of the equation, a person doing what I do for the city is underpaid,” he said.
Other salaries of note: Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler earns $35,000, Miami’s Tomas Regalado is paid $97,000, Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason gets $35,000, Doral Mayor Luigi Boria earns $62,000, Miami Beach's Matti Herrera Bower makes $10,000 and longtime Pembroke Pines Mayor Frank Ortis makes $48,000.
University of Miami political science professor George Gonzalez said there is good reason to pay public executives well.
“You don't want them to be easy prey for people who would want to corrupt them,” he said. “You want them well-paid to insulate them, to some degree, to the corrupting influences that are out there.”
Miami-Dade's former mayor, Carlos Alvarez, earned a handsome base salary of about $200,000.
Some found that to be appropriate, many others disagreed.
“If you are looking for some kind of scientific way to determine what is the actual value of an executive, and again I keep coming back to the fact that there is just none,” Gonzalez said.