Snohomish Council tackles touchy subject of mayoral pay hike

A Tuesday work session will be a chance for the City Council to discuss if it’s time for an adjustment

SNOHOMISH — Should the mayor of this city be paid more?

That’s a question City Councilmembers will ponder Tuesday in a 5 p.m. virtual work session on how Snohomish’s compensation ranks with other cities in the region and across the state.

No action is planned. It will be one of the first substantive conversations on the subject since November 2017 when voters installed a strong mayor form of government by 11 votes and narrowly elected John Kartak to the executive job.

Ahead of that election, the City Council set the annual wage at $18,000. There’s been no adjustments.

“We’ve had four years of having an elected mayor. It’s time to look at (the salary) and consider if it’s the right one,” Councilman Tom Merrill said. “We won’t make a decision. We’ll have to have more workshops. I am going into it with a mostly open mind. I have not reached a conclusion.”

Kartak thinks it should be higher. He promised in his 2017 campaign to work full-time as mayor — though it’s not a city requirement — and said it is a “sacrifice” to do so with the “unnecessarily low part-time salary.”

He’s not confident the current council is in the mood to make any adjustments and intends to refrain from engaging deeply in Tuesday’s discussion.

“I trust the council to make the decision. It’s their job,” he said.

As part of the work session, council members will review data on mayoral pay in cities with populations between 5,000 and 15,000 in Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. The city of Snohomish has a population of 10,240.

In the analysis prepared for the council, Sultan and Stanwood each pay their mayors the same amount as Snohomish — $1,500 a month. Duvall, a city of 7,950 in King County, pays its top elected official $2,000 a month and DuPont, a city of 9,525 in Pierce County, pays its mayor $2,100 a month.

Not too far away, Monroe, a town of just under 20,000, is paying its mayor $3,600 a month and in Arlington, with nearly 21,000 residents, the monthly pay is $7,100, according to the report.

Councilman Steve Dana supports paying the Snohomish mayor more though he’s not sure how much more. He said he would be surprised if there is any recommendation to do so.

“I am not sure there is a will to address the issue substantially,” he said. “I think it will just die due to a lack of interest.”

Dana said he’d prefer the council create a citizen salary commission to deal with wages for the mayor and council members. It can be a little touchy when people make recommendations on raises that affect themselves, he said.

A council majority rejected the idea earlier this year.

“I don’t believe in the salary commission,” Merrill said. “The citizens of Snohomish elected us to make hard decisions. Setting appropriate levels of salary for mayor is one of those hard decisions.”

Should the council, at some point, make a salary change, it would likely not take effect until after the winner of this year’s mayoral election is sworn in.

Kartak is seeking re-election. He is opposed by Linda Redmon and Sam King in the Aug. 3 primary.

Jerry Cornfield:; @dospueblos

Talk to us

More in Local News

The Pacific Ice rink under construction at Port of Everett on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Port of Everett unveils seasonal ice rink on the waterfront

The outdoor rink will be open through the end of January. The port plans for it to return annually.

A man died after he was found with gunshot wounds Saturday in downtown Everett. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)
Man dead after shooting in downtown Everett

The man, believed to be in his 40s, was found near California Street and Rockefeller Avenue.

Rear Adm. Christopher Sweeney, commander of Puget Sound-based Carrier Strike Group 11, in Bremerton on Nov. 23, 2021. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Justin McTaggart)
From Everett, this rear admiral commands a Navy strike group

Christopher Sweeney leads Carrier Strike Group 11, a force of aircraft and ships stretching from here to San Diego.

Charges: Everett ID thief tried to buy wheels, speakers, more

The man, 33, was charged this week with 10 counts of identity theft in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Resident escapes burning trailer near Gold Bar

Nobody was injured in the fire Saturday, but the home was destroyed.

A woman walks a dog in downtown Snohomish on Oct. 22. (Sue Misao / The Herald)
Snohomish adopts sales tax for mental health, affordable housing

The city’s new 0.1% tax is also under consideration elsewhere in Snohomish County.

Michael Ciaravino
Ex-Mill Creek manager gets $92K severance after rocky tenure

Deputy City Manager Martin Yamamoto has temporarily taken over after Michael Ciaravino’s resignation.

Shawneri Guzman, center, who was named Washington's Fire Educator of the Year and her team of Community Resource firefighter paramedics Janette Anderson, left, and Captain Nicole Picknell, right, at the Lynnwood Fire Station on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021 in Lynnwood, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A pandemic playbook, used nationally, was made in Snohomish County

South County Fire helped transport “patient zero.” Their COVID manual has helped departments far and wide.

The Monroe Correctional Complex on Thursday, April 9, 2020. Inmates held a demonstration on Wednesday night after six inmates tested positive for COVID-19. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Another outbreak sends 60 to isolation at Monroe prison unit

One worker and one prisoner tested positive Monday. Then more cases were found throughout the Twin Rivers Unit.

Most Read