County elected officials’ pay under review

Think Snohomish County’s elected leaders deserve a raise? Or a pay cut, perhaps?

Either way, you’ll have a chance to voice an opinion when a group convenes in the weeks ahead to decide what the county’s elected officials should earn. That covers a dozen positions, including the county executive, assessor, clerk, sheriff and members of the County Council.

The Snohomish County Citizens Commission on Salaries of Elected Officials includes 10 members, some appointed and others selected randomly from voter rolls. They meet every other year.

The first of four meetings is planned for 6 p.m. March 14 in the county’s west administration building. Other meetings, all open to the public, are scheduled every other week. A hearing will precede any final decision.

Two years ago, the commission decided to keep salaries the same as they had been since 2009. Commissioners had considered pay cuts, but decided against it after learning that most county employees’ pay had stayed flat or had risen slightly.

“We have to make sure we’re paying competitive salaries, that we’re not overpaying or underpaying compared to other counties of our size,” said Steve Neighbors of Lake Stevens, a member of two past salary commissions.

Neighbors won’t be participating this year, because he’s already served a maximum of two terms. He did, however, caution incoming salary commissioners to be as conservative as possible since salaries in general are not rising and, “it’s hard to know what’s going to happen in the economy two years ahead.” He added that few private-sector employees are receiving cost-of-living increases.

From 2011 to 2012, the county budget stayed basically flat. A new union contract will give most county employees a 1.35 percent cost-of-living adjustment this year.

Pay for the county’s elected officials currently ranges from $98,798.04 for the county clerk and treasurer to $148,832 for the prosecuting attorney.

County Council members, whose job is full time, earn $102,779.05 each, except for the council chairman, who earns an extra 10 percent. That’s less than what their counterparts earn in Thurston County ($105,276) Pierce County ($107,602) or King County ($135,006).

Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon’s $147,092 yearly salary is less than Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson’s $154,956. It’s also much lower than King County Executive Dow Constantine’s $202,510 yearly compensation or Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy’s $179,336.

Any changes made this year will take effect in 2013 and last through 2014.

Noah Haglund: 424-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

Salary commission

Snohomish County’s Citizens Commission on Salaries plans to meet at 6 p.m. every other Wednesday, from March 14 through April 25, in the sixth floor executive board room on 3000 Rockefeller Ave., Everett. Specific dates: March 14, March 28, April 11 and April 25

More info: go to www.snoco.org and search for “salary commission.”

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