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City Council considering giving Mayor Kartak a raise

SNOHOMISH — Mayor John Kartak’s $18,000-a-year salary may increase if the City Council decides it is right.
A discussion on the mayor’s salary is on the May 1 City Council agenda.
The mayor’s job was thought to be part-time, and the $18,000 salary was determined before the November election. Kartak, however, says he is working 10 hours a day.
Kartak’s not the one asking for a raise, though.
Councilman Larry Countryman, as well as council members Steve Dana and Linda Redmon, asked to have the topic discussed during the April 3 council meeting.
City Council President Jason Sanders put it on the May 1 agenda.
“My position going into this is like any business decision. This was a part time position,” but a pay-for-performance discussion may be worthwhile since the mayor is working full time, Sanders said before last week’s meeting.
The City Council approached the mayor’s position as a part-time position last year when it set the pay, but a memo from prior city manager Larry Bauman notes the council has no authority to determine how many hours the mayor works. The mayor’s salary was set at $18,000 — $1,500 a month — from surveying similarly sized cities between 7,500 and 15,000 people in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.
At the time of those discussions, Kartak told the Tribune in an interview last spring that if he was elected the salary would not define his approach to the job. He said at the time he intended to treat the mayorship as a full-time job.
Council gadfly Morgan Davis objected to increasing Kartak’s salary during the April 17 meeting, calling out to Kartak asking what he does all day.
“I do work 40 hours a week,” Kartak said. “I don’t know if there is a day I don’t work 10 hours a day. It’s council’s decision how much the mayor is paid.”
Davis said the government’s size has inflated after the Proposition 2 election turned the city into a “strong mayor” city, and that wasn’t what some residents expected when they voted for it.
“Council is wasting even more money than in the ‘weak mayor’ system,” Davis said. “This city does not need a full-time mayor, a full-time city administrator, a full-time executive assistant, and a full-time economic development manager.”
Tallied up, these four top-level administrators Davis named represent about $325,000 in salaries.
Kartak currently earns $18,000; city administrator Steve Schuller earns $150,642; the city executive assistant is still to be hired and will earn between $63,000 to $70,000; and the future economic development manager’s salary is estimated to be approximately $93,000, from city sources.
The city in March said it is saving $75,000 compared to the prior city organization spread by not having a public works director, which is a position that typically pays $100,000.
Under the prior city system, city manager Bauman was paid $153,376 by contract; Schuller was paid $136,947 as public works director; and the economic development manager was paid $109,740, according to the mayor’s office. These three salaries added to $400,063.
There is no longer a formal city public works director since Schuller stepped out of this role in February. Schuller’s roles are now as a dual city administrator and utilities general manager. Schuller’s $150,642 salary this year will increase to $158,184 in 2019 and again increase to $166,092 in 2020 under an employment contract signed by council in March.
Looking around
Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas, for example, is paid $43,200 a year as mayor. The job’s pay is set by a city salary commission; Monroe has 19,000 people.
Lake Stevens Mayor John Spencer was being paid $24,000 a year in 2016, according to the Association of Washington Cities. Lake Stevens has about 40,000 people.
Previously under the “weak mayor” system, where Snohomish had a non-executive mayor who sat on the City Council, the position paid $8,700.
Last year when setting the future strong mayor’s salary was discussed, resident Steve Humphries produced a state-wide mayoral salary study looking at cities that are about the same size as Snohomish. He told the City Council he found that the average pay of strong mayors for cities about the same size of Snohomish was between $28,000 to $30,000.
The city’s study used pay data that listed strong mayors and non-executive weak mayors together to generate the median income.

 

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