More than two years after voting 4-3 to disband a citizens commission that set compensation of city elected officials, the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night voted to reestablish another such body to take an independent look at current city council and mayoral salaries.
The issue of salary increases was initially raised during the Sept. 20 council meeting, but councilmembers agreed that more information was needed before any decisions could be made. On Tuesday night, the council heard a presentation from legislative assistant Andrew Pierce, who compared mayor and councilmember salaries in Edmonds with four other comparable Puget Sound cities: Marysville, Redmond, Lynnwood and Bremerton.
All were within a similar population range to Edmonds and all — like Edmonds — had a “strong mayor” form of government. According to Pierce’s research, the Edmonds mayor’s monthly salary of $9,622.84 sits in the middle of the five cities — under Redmond’s $11,416.66 and Marysville’s $10,659.93 but above Bremerton at $8,917 and Lynnwood at $8,577. The mayor’s benefits package was lower in Edmonds than the other four cities.
City councilmember salaries had Edmonds toward the top of the list — Edmonds councilmembers overall receive $1,000 a month, the same as Redmond and Bremerton; but the Edmonds council president with a monthly salary of $1,200 earns more than those of the other four cities.
After some discussion, Councilmember Diane Buckshnis moved that City Attorney Jeff Taraday create an ordinance to establish a citizens salary commission. Buckshnis suggested that the council appoint the commission members, but Taraday noted that state law requires the mayor to appoint the members, which must then be confirmed by the council.
Some councilmembers said while they were supportive of appointing a salary commission to do long-term work, they wanted to ensure that Earling received a raise as part of the City’s 2017 budget, noting he had not had a salary hike since a cost of living increase in 2012. Buckshnis also suggested that that Earling receive a 5 percent raise during the current 2017 budgetary process while the commission does its work for the 2018 budget cycle.
The council unanimously approved Buckshnis’ motion regarding creation of a salary commission, with the expectation that the mayor’s salary increase will be considered as part of upcoming 2017 budget discussions.
Other council action on Tuesday included:
– Receiving the Washington State Department of Transportation 2016 Award of Excellence for the Five Corners Roundabout Project.
– Approving, following a public hearing, staff preparation of a resolution regarding an application from Westgate Chapel requesting vacation of approximately 375 feet of right-of-way on 92nd Avenue West located adjacent to church property along Edmonds Way
– Moving to next week’s consent agenda, the city’s draft 2017-2022 Capital Facilities Plan/Capital Improvement Program and a proposed increase in traffic impact fees charged to developers of new construction to mitigate traffic impacts those projects will cause
The Capital Facilities Plan, updated annually, identifies capital projects for at least the next six years that support the city’s Comprehensive Plan. It contains a list of projects aimed at accommodating the city’s projected population growth in accordance with the Growth Management Act. The Capital Improvement Program is a budgeting tool that includes capital and maintenance projects, tying those projects to the various city funds and revenues.
Regarding traffic impact fees, the council approved an increase from $1,050 per trip to $5,530 per trip, after staff recommended that the increase would better offsets the cost of traffic congestion generated by development. The increase would be phased in over three years. Developers who provide affordable housing would be eligible for an up-to-80-percent reduction in these fees.
– Receiving the last of the city’s department-specific presentations on the 2017 budget. Among the budget requests submitted:
– Police Chief Al Compaan requested $23,607 for a police radio antenna/repeater in the city’s Public Safety Building to resolve “dead zones” there; $78,018 for a police staff assistant to help with increased volume of public records requests; $134,644 for a police school resource officer, shared with the Edmonds School District, for assignment at Edmonds-Woodway High School. The budget amount also includes the city’s contribution to a vehicle; $41,500 to replace a SWAT transport vehicle.
– City Clerk Scott Passey requested $9,500 for a web-based public records software module that will allow the public to fill out public records requests online and will also enable the public to see the records requests made by other users.-
– Under nondepartmental expenses, Finance Director Scott James noted that the city has not yet received a bill from Fire District 1 for 2016 fire and emergency medical services, but estimates the city will pay fire district $8,327,000 for services, which includes a retroactive payment of $802,000. The 2017 proposed city budget includes a base payment of $7,713,000 for Fire District 1 plus a 2.5 percent increase for services.
In honor of Election Day, next week’s council meeting will be moved from Tuesday, Nov. 8 to Monday, Nov. 7.
— By Teresa Wippel