Mayor Kartak seeks salary review in speech
SNOHOMISH — The unofficial theme of Mayor John Kartak’s 2019 State of the City speech could be summarized as gratitude.
During the 30-minute morning address at the Snohomish Senior Center, Kartak punctuated his presentation on the city’s accomplishments and initiatives with multiple thank-yous, to city staffers, volunteers from numerous agencies and elected officials.
The address, which began with thanks, ended with a request to the community: Kartak is ready to request a raise.
Kartak said he had no complaints about his $18,000 salary as he knew the amount offered when he ran for office, but he believed a review was due.
Kartak said he didn’t run for mayor only to pursue the job as a part time “hobby,” but as a full time passion that he worked at 10 to 14 hours per day. He explained he performed three time-consuming roles, including being of service to residents, a leader in city government and Snohomish’s advocate to other government agencies.
In a follow-up interview, the mayor said he would not request a specific salary amount, but suggested the city create a salary commission of citizens to determine what was appropriate.
Early in the address, Kartak outlined the City Council’s 2019 goals, including talks with Lake Stevens about growth, affordable housing, reinvigorating the Pilchuck District, economic development and parking.
He continued to appraise the approximately 40 people in attendance of the city’s main functions; law enforcement, utilities, transportation, parks and planning.
But homelessness got the most time among the topics. Kartak said homelessness was usually accompanied by drug addiction and often mental health issues.
“As a caring community with a big heart, we struggle,” Kartak said. But where a resident “hands out $20” to a homeless person and another resident “is a victim of theft, both have to stop.” Those situations both help keep people addicted to drugs comfortable, the mayor said, and people need to be uncomfortable before they will be willing to seek help.
Instead he encouraged residents to take safety precautions such as following the Police Department’s 9 p.m. routine to lock doors and secure valuables.
Kartak suggested that a public-private partnership with Lutheran Community Services Northwest could help the city address social problems. He said the agency provided services to those in need, and if clients came to the center repeatedly, they received help breaking the cycle that led to their problems. The mayor was inspired by a visit with the group and the work done in their centers in surrounding communities such as Lake Stevens.
Among accomplishments during his first year in office, Kartak highlighted a decrease in the wastewater overage rate, street improvements, and the hiring of the Snohomish Police Department’s first community outreach officer and a new economic development director. He also praised the city’s switch from a one-year to a two-year budget cycle. The positives included a police focus on speeding, with Kartak saying speeding was bad news, but it was good news that was the city’s most common law enforcement concern.
In upcoming accomplishments, the mayor included the renovation of the Carnegie Library scheduled to begin this summer and the revisioning of Second Street as a more pedestrian friendly thoroughfare. Kartak touted the city’s ability to land grants for both projects and that the city did not have to go into debt to fund the projects. He also said residents could look forward to repaved streets on Bickford, Terrace and Cypress avenues.
The speech was received warmly by members of the Senior Center, staffers and community leaders.
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