Council rejects salary increase

By Janice Podsada

Herald Writer

LYNNWOOD — The Lynnwood City Council on Wednesday rejected a recommendation calling for pay raises for both the council and mayor.

But while the mayor, who hasn’t seen a raise in eight years, won’t get any extra money next year, council members will get a raise anyway.

The council was already scheduled to get pay hikes in 2002, thanks to a 1999 city ordinance.

That will make Lynnwood’s city council one of the state’s best-compensated councils in cities of comparable size.

The issue of pay raises arose this summer when the council approved the formation of an independent Citizens’ Salary Commission.

In October, the commission advised that the mayor’s salary should increase from $6,512 to $7,150 a month, or from $78,144 to $85,800 a year. It also said that council members should receive a flat $1,300 month, instead of a variable rate.

But the council, by a vote of 5 to 2, rejected the recommendations.

Had the raise been approved, it would have gone into effect in January, benefiting Lynnwood’s mayor-elect Mike McKinnon.

McKinnon, who currently serves on the council, and council member Lisa Utter voted to accept the commission’s recommendations. McKinnon told the council he would not have accepted the raise when he took office in January, returning the additional amount to city coffers.

Councilman Don Gough, who ran unsuccessfully for mayor this fall, introduced the ordinance that put the kibosh on the commission’s pay raises for the mayor and city council members.

Gough’s ordinance also increased the council’s pay according to the salary schedule set two years ago.

According to the 1999 schedule, council members’ salaries will increase from the current $650 to $725 per month, and from $115 to $125 per meeting.

Although the increase was in accordance with the 1999 ordinance, Mayor Tina Roberts-Martinez said the council already enjoys a robust compensation.

"They are some of the highest paid council members in the state based on cities of comparable size."

Council members in Redmond (pop. 45,000) receive a flat rate of $800 a month; Renton council members (50,000) receive $950; and Olympia (42,000) $650 a month, she said, citing figures from a salary commission’s study.

Peter Lieurance, the city’s executive assistant, has said that council members attend an average of five meetings a month.

Under the new pay schedule, which begins in January, base pay plus attending five meetings pays $1,350 — $50 more than the citizens’ commission called for.

The council also decided the council president should not get an extra $200 per month as the salary commission recommended.

You can call Herald Writer Janice Podsada at 425-339-3029 or send e-mail to podsada@heraldnet.com.

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