Edmonds judge gets more hours, more pay

EDMONDS — The Edmonds City Council has approved an increase in hours and pay for Municipal Judge Douglas Fair, with his annual salary now set at $106,068.

That’s an additional $30,545 to his current salary of $75,523. The new salary reflects both a 3 percent raise and an increase in the time he works by 8 hours, from 22 to 30 hours each week, said Carrie Hite, the city’s reporting director for human resources.

The municipal judge hears cases involving misdemeanor infractions of city ordinances and parking violations.

Fair said that he asked for the increase to help make the position more financially competitive with other municipal court positions in the region. Fair is running unopposed as a judicial candidate for Snohomish County’s South District Court. If elected, he will start there in January.

“The time was appropriate to set this up for the new judge coming in” as municipal judge, he said. “There’s a big difference between $75,000 and $106,000 in that job. The idea is we want to attract the highest pool of applicants we can.”

Fair said that when he was first appointed as the city’s municipal court judge in 2005, there were 5,318 case filings. That number is expected to hit about 6,000 cases this year. (The municipal judge position was converted to an elected one in 2006.)

However, the numbers have bounced between 7,000 and 8,000 filings over the past five years. The highest number occurred in 2011 with 7,919 cases, Fair said.

The city receives money from the state to help pay for the costs of running the court. But to qualify, Edmonds must pay a salary tied to what district court judges are paid, based on the number of hours the municipal court judge works.

Fair said that some of the state money has been used to improve safety and security in the courthouse.

The change in Fair’s hours and pay was approved by the City Council on Tuesday on a 5-2 vote, with council members Diane Buckshnis, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Kristiana Johnson, Thomas Mesaros and Strom Peterson voting yes and Joan Bloom and Lora Petso voting no.

“To me, it was a necessary item to be competitive in the market,” said Buckshnis, the City Council president.

The judge’s workload could have justified increasing his hours slightly more than the eight hours approved by the council, she said.

Petso said she had no qualms with increasing Fair’s hours or pay. She said she voted against the proposal “just as a matter of budget priorities.”

Petso said she wished the request could have been added to the city’s 2015 budget, rather than taking the action now.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

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