Raises may come for City Council

June 10, 2014

By Peter Clark

The Issaquah City Council wants to evaluate its members’ pay.

During the June 2 regular meeting, the council discussed forming a salary commission, which would look at the council’s monthly salary and determine whether members should receive more, less or the same. It voted 5-2 to direct the administration to draft an ordinance and to have the Services & Safety Committee review it.

Currently, the council president makes $800 a month, the deputy council president makes $750 a month and other council members make $700 per month. The salaries were established in 2002. A salary commission last reviewed the salaries in 2006 without recommending a change.

Councilmembers draw their salaries for preparing for and attending regular meetings, committee meetings as well as representing the city in regional governing bodies. This responsibility requires them to attend at least four meetings a month, each of which usually lasts hours. Preparations for these include reading many reports and evaluations.

City Clerk Tina Eggers presented the agenda bill and said the administration had reviewed 15 comparable city council salaries and found Issaquah lower than all but one. With average populations of 50,000, the cities evaluated had an average council’s monthly pay was $939.

Most of the council received the idea to form a salary commission positively.

“I really support this idea, because it’s been 12 years since this council has looked at a salary adjustment,” Councilman Joshua Schaer said. “And I’m not saying I need another $50. I don’t think there are any of us up here doing it for the money. It’s really a fairness issue.”

Councilwoman Eileen Barber said a salary increase could provide an incentive for community involvement.

“We’ve had so many elections where we’ve had no challengers,” she said. “Hopefully, it would bring in additional people who would come forward and put their hand up for this position.”

Council President Paul Winterstein and Councilwoman Stacy Goodman opposed the action.

“My feeling is that it’s token compensation either way,” Winterstein said. “I just don’t want to spend any time on the issue, and my priority is to spend my time pursuing other issues.”

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