MUKILTEO — Thanks to a deadlocked Mukilteo City Council, the mayor elected in 2022 will continue to earn $70,800 a year plus benefits.
A proposal to cut the mayor’s salary to $36,000 and strip all benefits failed when the vote ended in a tie at Monday’s council meeting.
The mayor’s role and responsibilities have been hot-button issues with the divided council. A proposition on the Nov. 5 ballot to change the format of government from a strong mayor to council-manager failed. Had it passed, it would have meant Mayor Jennifer Gregerson would have been out of a job midway through her second term.
The pay cut proposal was not part of the ballot proposition, which was defeated by voters.
At Monday’s meeting, three citizens spoke against a salary cut, including former Mayor Joe Marine. He lost to Gregerson in 2013 and won a seat on the council last month after a six-year break from politics. His new council term starts in January.
Charlie Pancerzewski, a former councilman turned citizen watchdog who attends most meetings and speaks up often, voiced support for the proposed salary cut.
Councilmembers Anna Rohrbough, Christine Cook and Steve Schmalz voted in favor of the motion to cut the pay of future mayors. Councilmember Sarah Kneller did not attend the meeting.
Rohrbough, a frequent critic of the mayor and the council member who in 2018 initiated a no-confidence vote in her, said it wasn’t “personal.”
It’s “fiscal,” she said.
“It’s a budgetary decision,” she said.
Council members are paid $6,000 a year.
The fate of the legislation hung in the balance, briefly, when Richard Emery and Bob Champion voted against it.
The deciding opposing vote was cast by new councilmember Riaz Khan.
“A part-time mayor would have to work full time somewhere else, do a double job,” Khan said later. “We need a full-time mayor, full benefits, so she can focus here.”
If passed, the salary cut wouldn’t have gone into effect until after Gregerson’s current term is over.
Khan, who was elected to the council on his third try, took the seat earlier than the other new candidates because the position he won became vacant. He was sworn in Nov. 27 after Scott Whelpley resigned, saying he was moving out of the city. Whelpley, who lost his run for re-election against Emery, voted in favor of the ordinance when it was first proposed in November.
At that time, the ordinance failed in a tie after Rohrbough abstained. “As as soon as I abstained I knew I made a mistake,” she said Monday. She made a motion for a revote.
Monday’s meeting was the last for Cook and Schmalz, who did not seek re-election. Both were in favor of the council-manager format that was rejected by voters.