Harvey Budd – City Commission at Large Candidate Questionnaire

1) What are the biggest issues facing working people in the City of Gainesville?

  • Jobs that do not pay a living wage or offer quality benefits
  • The reduction in trades and occupations represented by labor unions
  • Lack of jobs, especially in skilled trades
  • Inadequate educational opportunities for workers and the children of working parents

2) Do you support paying a living wage for all City workers including part-time, temporary, seasonal, and contracted workers? (The ACLC defines a living wage as 125% of the Federal Poverty Level – currently $14.78 an hour).

     a. How will you ensure contracted workers are paid the set wage

     b. What is your plan to get us there?

My goal is to get all City of Gainesville workers to $15 / per hour.  The biggest question is how do we get them there without causing too much wage stress for the remaining more experienced and higher paid employees.

At this time, we are increasing paying the wages for most employees by at least $.50 per hour per year.  Simultaneously, we are doing a wage study in order to increase wages for most employees.   We have set aside a large amount of money in the 2017/2018 budget for salary increases.  By raising the City minimum wage by approximately $.50 per year we will reach $15 / per hour in the next 4 to 5 years.  In New York State and California they have similar plans to reach $15 / per hour in 4 to 5 years.  So Gainesville will be in line with the major metro areas by then.

3) What other ideas do you have to help improve wages and benefits for workers throughout our community?

We need a progression of major employees in the community to state publicly that they will pay at least $15/per hour as a bare minimum wage, and do so within the next 4 years, at the most.  Ideally, they should enact such wages ASAP.  A good place to start is with the University of Florida, an institution that seems to have money for certain things but not for the Gainesville citizens who work there.  We then go to Santa Fe College, other large employers, and the Alachua County School Board.   We would ask all of them to raise wages for underpaid employees by 4% per year, 2% for normal cost of living wage increase and an additional 2% for raising the base salary.  In effect the 4% when rounded up should be at approximately $.50 per year, and or at least $2.75 over 5 years.

4) Do you support providing paid administrative leave for part-time, temporary, seasonal, and contracted City workers in the event of emergency work closures (e.g., hours missed due to Hurricane Irma)?

Yes.  It is a disgrace that workers who were displaced by the storms or other environmental issues should suffer twice by not being paid.

5) If you are an employer: Do you pay all your workers a living wage?

I do, as does my wife.  My television business pays all full time employees at least $15/hour, plus medical insurance and a travel stipend.  I have only one part time employee, paid $13/hour, but he works from home.

My wife pays her part-time employees a starting wage of $12.50/hour, and raises it $.50 every year.

6) Do you support a “Renters Bill of Rights’” which would:

  • inform renters of their rights under existing laws
  • offer an alternative to costly courts to settle disputes over security deposits and damages
  • protect renters from high utility bills by enacting policies that require landlords to make basic investments in energy efficiency

Yes to all of the above.  These are all great ideas and should be implemented.

However, we would need to carefully craft the policies to increase the energy efficiency of leased residences.  One way to start is with a simple requirement of full disclosure.  Landlords should provide their prospective tenants with some accurate record of the most recent utility bills, perhaps going back several years.

This requirement would work to increase the incentive for a landlord to make energy efficient renovations because, if the utility bills are very high, the landlord would be faced with the choice of lowering the rent and/or increasing the energy efficiency of the unit, in order to attract prospective renters.

In addition, instead of a blanket requirement that landlords install certain types of appliances, windows, doors, etc., we could come up with ways the City could incentivize such renovations.

7) Do you support a local hiring preference that includes the use of certified apprenticeship programs for taxpayer-funded projects?

Yes, this is a great way to increase the availability of trade education opportunities.  Until our county schools get the funds they truly need from the legislature, it is up to individual progressive municipalities like our own to find creative ways to provide education for skilled laborers.