County’s top officials’ pay gets review

The salaries of the county’s top elected officials – earning $1.05 million among all 11 of them, including the sheriff and the county executive – are up for review and possible raises.

The review by the Citizens Commission on Salaries of Elected Officials occurs every other year and compares how much officials make – or don’t make – stacked up against similar jobs.

At the moment, there is no specific set of raises on the table.

Current salaries for Snohomish County officials:

* Prosecutor: $124,411*

* Executive: $123,193

* Sheriff: $101,387

* Council chairman: $97,532.15

* Council (four members): $88,665.59

* Assessor: $87,400

* Auditor: $83,171

* Clerk: $82,734

* Treasurer: $82,734

*The prosecutor’s salary is tied to that of state judges and is not reviewed by the county’s salary panel.

The commission’s second and final public hearing is 2 p.m. Friday at the County’s East Administration Building, 3000 Rockefeller Ave., Everett.

A final recommendation on salaries for 2006 is expected around the end of the month.

“We’ve been trying to determine the market rate for each position, trying to determine what is equitable,” said Barbara Earl, chairwoman of the Citizens Commission on Salaries of Elected Officials. The panel has six members reviewing pay rates.

“We want to be fair, and we’re going through that exercise,” said Earl, who is a consultant living in Mill Creek. “It’s only fair to hear from them (the public) before we make up our minds. I’m trying to stay open-minded until that point.”

For discussion purposes, a 2 percent cost-of-living increase is assumed for each position, although the actual figure will depend on pending contracts with the 2,000-member county government workers union, Earl said.

After public input, commission members will propose and discuss pay raises at two more meetings before making a recommendation to the Snohomish County Council, which has the final say.

The commission has reviewed salaries every other year since 1997.

In 2003, the salary commission recommended 1.5 percent raises for the treasurer, auditor and clerk, but recommended no raises for other officials because of a tight county budget.

County Council members must stand for re-election before receiving the pay increases, Earl said. County Councilmen John Koster, Jeff Sax and Dave Gossett are seeking re-election and would receive the raises if voters give another term to each.

The terms of Council Chairman Gary Nelson and Councilman Kirke Sievers end in 2007, after which they would receive the raises if re-elected.

Other salaries under review include those of County Executive Aaron Reardon, Sheriff Rick Bart, Auditor Bob Terwilliger, Assessor Cindy Portmann, Clerk Pam Daniels and Treasurer Bob Dantini.

“These guys work so hard,” Earl said of officials. “We do not address the quality of their work at all. We believe that’s the voters’ responsibility.”

Reporter Jeff Switzer: 425-339-3452 or

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