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No pay raise for Snohomish mayor

SNOHOMISH — Mayor John Kartak will not receive a raise after the City Council decided against the idea at its July 17 meeting.
The mayor’s salary is $18,000 per year, plus an optional medical benefits package which Kartak declined according to finance director Debbie Burton.
The city is seven months into having a strong mayor form of government. The position was envisioned as part-time, but Kartak has said he’s working 10-hour days. Some council members wanted to discuss the appropriate salary with Kartak’s workload considered.
 “I think it’s important that being in a government position is accessible to anybody,” and that being able to serve as mayor, working, and being afford to support a family is important to a representative democracy said Councilwoman Linda Redmon at the July meeting. She supported an increase.
Councilman Steve Dana also supported an increase. Elected officials do not do their jobs for the money, Dana said, but should not be paid so low they are “being punished for doing the job.”
Councilman Larry Countryman supported a significant increase to $60,000 for full-time work. He spoke about the significant responsibilities of the mayor and said an increase would enable the mayor to be more accessible to residents.
But while several council members spoke to Kartak’s strong work ethic and dedication, a 4-3 majority was opposed to an increase for the time being.
“The city doesn’t owe the mayor a living,” said Councilman Tom Merrill. He also expressed concern that the salary comparison provided was too small a sample size.
The list the council used was compiled by the City Attorney’s office and showed an average monthly salary of $3,757 for strong mayor cities. Kartak’s monthly salary is $1,500 per month.
The list covered seven cities within 50 miles of Snohomish with a similar “strong mayor” form of government and populations between 7,500 and 14,999 such as Duvall, Lake Forest Park, Port Orchard and Poulsbo plus three “weak mayor” cities. 
Council President Jason Sanders conducted his own comparison among 18 cities with a population of 9,000 to 12,000 and found the average salary was similar to Kartak’s.
Sanders and Councilwoman Karen Guzak both said it was too early in the four-year term to consider an increase. Councilwoman Lynn Schilaty said some of Kartak’s activities were discretionary.
Council members noted that the salary was known in advance and that the position did not require a certain number of hours. They also noted Snohomish has a full-time city administrator and other professional staff to manage the city’s day-to-day business.
The mayor excused himself from the room during the discussion. Countryman, who is Kartak’s relative by way of his son’s marriage to Kartak’s sister, opted to participate, joking that he could not chose his relatives but that Kartak was his friend.

In this story, it was reported that Councilwoman Linda Redmon was among three council members who clearly support increasing the mayor’s salary. In her comments at the meeting, Redmon did not explicitly say in her comments that she supported increasing the wage. The Tribune regrets the error.


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