Mukilteo mayor asks for 330% higher pay

MUKILTEO – Mayor Joe Marine says his position has become a full-time job. And as such, he believes he should be compensated for it.

He’s asking the City Council to increase his pay from $21,600 to $92,959 a year – a jump of $71,359, or 330 percent.

The city has grown too much to continue paying its mayor a part-time salary, Marine said. The compensation should be high enough to allow whoever holds the position to focus solely on the job.

“I’m asking for this (in order) to decide whether we’re at the point in our city’s history where we’re ready for a full-time mayor,” Marine said.

If the council approves, the increase would go into effect May 1. The council is scheduled to consider Marine’s request at its 7 p.m. meeting Monday.

The salary would be in line with other cities around Snohomish County, including Edmonds, Marysville and Lynnwood.

And Mukilteo city officials conducted a nine-city survey, including Anacortes, Redmond and Issaquah. The average pay for mayors in those cities was $92,959 – the amount of the Mukilteo mayor’s proposed salary.

Former Mayor Don Doran agrees that the job has become full time, but he believes that creating a full-time mayor position should be decided by voters, not council members.

“The lay of the land has changed now that we’re considering this a full-time job,” he said. “I personally would vote for him again. Mayor Marine is doing a very good job, and I think he would do a good job as a full-time mayor as well.”

Mukilteo, with a population of about 19,630, is one of 16 cities in Snohomish County with a mayor-council form of municipal government.

In mayor-council governments, the mayor acts as the city’s executive officer and handles day-to-day operations.

Several mid-size cities, including Mukilteo, hire city managers to assist the mayor, according to the Seattle-based Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington.

Under the study conducted by Mukilteo, city officials looked at cities in Snohomish, King, Pierce and Skagit counties with populations ranging from 16,170 to 49,890.

Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall received a 15 percent raise at the beginning of this month, boosting his annual salary from $77,484 to $89,106 a year, plus benefits.

Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson is paid $101,412, and Lynnwood Mayor Don Gough is paid $87,963.

Although Mukilteo has always had a mayor-council form of government, the city wasn’t big enough to necessitate a full-time mayor until recent years, said Doran, who served as mayor before Marine took office.

Most of the city’s day-to-day operations were handled by the former city administrator, Doran said.

The former city administrator left for a new job in Woodinville. The position is being filled by interim City Administrator Lee Walton.

Councilman Bruce Richter, who’s been on the council since 1991, said he supports the mayor’s raise. Having a full-time, dedicated mayor would help bring stability to City Hall, he said.

“To actually have a strong candidate for mayor, we need to actually pay the position,” Richter said. “It’s requiring a lot more time than it used to.”

Council President Jennifer Gregerson said she supports giving the mayor a raise, but not as much as proposed. She also favors designating the position as full time, she said.

“I think as our city has grown, it’s reasonable to expect there should be some more compensation for the mayor,” she said. “It’s a big job, and $20,000, when you really have to take time away from your actual job, that’s not really compensating someone for their investment.”

Marine, who also sells insurance, said he’s already logging full-time hours as mayor. He plans to stop taking on new clients if the change is made.

He said he feels an elected official can be held more accountable for the city’s business than a hired city administrator.

“I take the responsibility, but I don’t feel like I have the tools to be as effective in that job,” he said.

Reporter Scott Pesznecker: 425-339-3436 or

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