CAPE CORAL, Fla. — At the Cape Coral City Council meeting on December 13, community members expressed disbelief as council members approved a stipend that would give council members $40,000 and the mayor $60,000.
Now, community members are speaking out with an online petition that already has more than 4,000 signatures in opposition to the pay increase.
The petition is spearheaded by former council member Richard Leon.
While council agendas are posted online days before a meeting, Leon claims there was a lack of public knowledge about this proposal.
"I was shocked that they had this without discussion, and really just pushed it on their agenda forward," said Leon. "It was a shame because there was no public input or comment, and really no details of what it was and why it was happening."
Leon has taken his concerns into his own hands by creating the petition in hopes of a change of heart by the council.
"You can't just ask yourselves for a pay raise," said Leon. "You need to you need to get out there, talk to the people, bring them with you give them a reason why to vote for you, and do that. We did that in 2015 actually, we had the voters vote for a pay raise and they did. They doubled our salary."
Fox 4's Bella Line spoke with Tom Hayden, council member for District 3. He says this stipend will help them complete their duties with what he called fair compensation considering the city's growth in population.
Fox 4 asked Hayden if there could be any change to the decision with this petition in mind.
"I don't believe so," said Hayden. "At this point, I mean, the awareness is out there. They have the right to do the petition to collect the names. You know, that's the citizens' right, but I think as a city, it's important for us to move forward to look at the issues that we're facing in 2024."
Leon says the purpose of the petition is to raise awareness and encourage council members to reconsider.
The online petition can be found here.