Lake Stevens staff get pay raise

LAKE STEVENS — Most of Lake Stevens’ nonunion administrative staff are getting a pay raise this year, some of them as high as 15 percent.

The move, approved by the city council last week, comes after the city conducted a salary survey for the 22 municipal employees (out of a total of 61 full-time equivalents) who are not represented by a labor union.

These include department heads, such as the city administrator, public works director and police chief, as well as other positions that aren’t covered by a collective-bargaining agreement, such as accountants or building officials.

While union contracts are renewed every two or three years and often include comparison of Lake Stevens’ salaries to other cities’, a comprehensive review of the nonunion employees’ salaries hasn’t been done since 2008.

The city’s policy is to review salaries of nonrepresented staff every three years, said city administrator Jan Berg.

“When the review was due in 2010 for 2011, the economy wasn’t in good shape,” Berg said. It made no sense at the time to talk about salary increases then.

The salary survey, conducted between October and earlier this year, compared Lake Stevens’ pay scales to other cities of with comparable populations and property values: Bonney Lake, Camas, Des Moines, Kenmore, Maple Valley, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace and Oak Harbor.

In comparing salaries across the cities, most positions were found to be below the average at both the high and low ends of the pay scales (which are based on the number of years of employment with the city).

According to the survey, for example, the city’s finance director had the largest discrepancy: With a salary range that tops out at $109,032, that position was 15 percent below average for the same position in comparable cities. The highest paid city employee, the city administrator, was also 14 percent below average, or $128,760.

Other positions were closer to average — accountant salaries range from $58,428 to $71,952, or from 0 to 2 percent below average — while IT specialist positions, which have the same pay range as accountants, were 14 percent above the average for that position.

The scheduled increases in pay apply only to those employees that were below the average in pay. Those salaries above the average will be frozen, then reviewed every year during the city’s budgeting process until the market catches up, Berg said.

Those positions where the difference in annual salaries and the average from the other cities, was $5,000 or less would have their pay raised to that average starting May 1.

Those positions where the difference is more than $5,000 will have half the difference between the current salary and the average applied on May 1, with the second half of the raise deferred until the beginning of 2015.

There is room in the current budget for salary increases, Berg said. The fiscal impact in 2014 of the raises will be just $18,971. In 2015, when the deferred salary increases are included, the city will pay out an additional $59,699.

The 2014 budget made several changes to other city positions, including turning a police support officer position into a records clerk job. The city is adding a total of four new fulltime positions, three of them in the Police Department and one in the Planning Department, Berg said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com.

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