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Mayor gets 15 percent pay boost
MARYSVILLE By a three-to-one vote the Marysville Salary Commission voted to raise Mayor Dennis Kendalls salary by 15 percent at its March 26 meeting.
His current $6,457 salary will be augmented by $968.55 effective April 1, for a monthly total of $7,419 and an annual handle of $89,000.
The four commission members present unanimously voted to keep the current City Council member base pay at $700 per month and to maintain the additional $50 for each meeting members attend.
Salary Commission Chairman Jim Scharf said the city is growing and will need to increase the pay of the top executive in order to attract qualified candidates and keep pace with several peer cities of similar size.
Scharf is the police chief for the City of Everett and a former Marysville City Council member, and he said the responsibilities and complexities of the mayors job have grown as the city has annexed large tracts of land and new citizens. Since 2006 Marysville has grown from 28,000 people to the current 37,000 citizens and Scharf said the once sleepy town on the slough is heading toward a total population of 50,000 to 80,000. That increases the complexity of the job and the cooperation and coordination the mayors office must maintain with other local agencies.
You dont get into public service to make a large salary, Scharf told his peers, stressing that he wants to attract quality candidates to fill the job in the future. I think its a very, very demanding, complex job at its present time.
Commissioner Jim Lonneker noted the group of cities of similar size, population and budgets they reviewed to see how their councils and chief executives are paid. Those include Bremerton with 38,600 people and a $136 million budget; Edmonds with 39,680 folks and a $70 million budget; Mount Vernon with a 28,710 headcount and $44 million budget. The two largest peer cities were Redmond and Renton with 49,890 and 58,360 people each and budgets of $263 million and $76 million, respectively. Their mayoral salaries ranged from a low of $7,224 per month for Mount Vernon to a high of $9,956 for Renton.
It appears to me that were getting further away from the median cities, said Lonneker. Im on the same page. I think we need to make a significant adjustment.
Commissioner Kelly Wright wanted to toe the line to match the raises Marysvilles two largest unions received this year. Marysville police got four percent raise and the Teamsters Union contract included a boost of 4.16 percent. But chief administrative officer Mary Swenson noted that the police union received increases totaling 24 percent in their last contract.
Because they were out of whack that much, because it had been several years since we moved to comparables, Swenson explained, citing increases tied to inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index. It was spread over the length of the contract. They got a pretty good, significant salary bump, the MPOA did, over the life of the contract.
She didnt gain any ground with Wright, the sole hold out who voted against the final increase.
I think a 15 percent increase is too much at one time, Wright said. I could support a 10 percent increase.
At some point we have to start gaining on that CPI, Lonneker said. I dont think that last year we were overly generous with our five percent.
After some quick math the commission agreed that the citys population has increased by 30 percent and the total budget from $96 million to $114 million in just one year. The mayor also gets the same health care and benefits as other employees: city council members get nothing but their pay. No members of the public spoke but a few city union workers were there to observe.
The commission asked Swenson about other staff salaries. Her $11,455 monthly check is the largest on the city payroll for an annual take of $137,000, she told them, and the new police chief and public works director earn $127,000 annually, she added, with other department directors earning less. White collar worker not covered by union contracts are about four percent below what they should be, according to Swenson. That was enough for Scharf.
It comes down to the mayor, it doesnt come down to the chief administrative officer, Scharf said, saying the elected official has to take the heat from unhappy voters. I think the record shows that this city is in good financial shape.
Lonneker asked Swenson if the city budget could handle the increase and the April 1 effective date. There would be no concerns with that, she told him.
Scharf and Lonneker were joined by Donald Card voting for the raise; Wright was the sole nay, and commissioners Andrew Sandoval, Gary Edmondson and Becky Johnson were absent from the 30-minute meeting. Past meetings have lasted from three to five minutes. Lonneker is a banker, Card works in aerospace production and Wright is a political consultant.
The commission vote does not require approval by the city council and can take effect before the next election because the commission is independently appointed. Were the city council and mayor to decide the matter themselves the increases could not take effect until after their next elections, meaning some members of the council could be getting more pay than their peers, as terms are staggered two years apart.
Even with the raise, Kendall is far from the top of the pay scale. In 2005 when he made $72,000 Kendall was about 30th from the top, and of the top 25 employees more than half were police officers racking up huge amounts of overtime. Several officers earned more than $100,000 with one sergeant earning $105,000, a few hundred dollars away from then-police chief Bob Carden. Many others officers were in the $90,000-plus range, putting them above the departments three commanders who earned $86,000.