A salary study for City Council members was requested by Kathy Huckabay during the Sept. 20 meeting (at 184 minutes into the meeting on the video tape).
Members are paid $850/mo; the mayor gets $950/mo.
Huckabay asked the staff to conduct a salary review as part of the current budget process. Staff said it is undertaking a salary review study for employees. Her current term expires next year. She has not said whether she will seek reelection or retire,
“In that salary review, are you going to be reviewing city council salaries?” Huckabay asked. “Next year is an election year. It would be really important for potential people who are running for city council to understand what the salary schedule is.
“I understand Issaquah hired somebody and they did a salary study and they came back with an adjustment.”
Huckabay didn’t say what the Issaquah adjustment is. Huckabay asked a question about storm water costs immediately after her salary review question. Staff answered the second question but not the first.
Compensation for Council members also includes limited insurance benefits. Salaries are always a tricky issue for elected officials.
Members of Congress and state legislatures often complain they are underpaid for the time and work they do, but constituents—often unhappy with their representatives—view any raises as greedy officials looking to line their own pockets.
In an effort to remove some of the controversy surrounding compensation, elected officials like to use third party studies or commissions to make recommendations. This attempts to avoid the elected setting the salary levels on their own decision.
Raising the compensation during an elected official’s current term in generally prohibited, another step to avoid the appearance of self-dealing.
If the current City Council were to approve a raise, it would not take effect until January 2018 for four positions and not until January 2020 for three positions. The four seats up for election next year are held by Huckabay, Bob Keller, Tom Odell and Mayor Don Gerend. The other three seats were up in last year’s election. These are held by Ramiro Valderrama, Tom Hornish and Christie Malchow.
Part time work
The Sammamish City Council members are supposed to be part-time positions. In practice, the Council Members put in long hours, some more than others.
Sammamish Comment previously wrote that Members are underpaid at $850/mo for the amount of time and work they put in. (Members of the Planning Commission, Parks Commission, etc., receive no compensation of any kind despite the long hours they put in.)