Snohomish to discuss salary for new strong mayor

SNOHOMISH — The Snohomish City Council plans to resume its discussion about potential salaries for a new strong mayor Tuesday.

In December, the city of Snohomish voted to change its form of government. A strong mayor is expected to be elected in November. In anticipation, the council must decide how much the position will pay.

The conversation has been deferred twice, as people from the community and council members parted on preferences.

The current mayor earns $725 per month. City manager Larry Bauman presented in January a list of mayoral salaries from comparable cities around Washington. A mayor in Sumner is paid $1,800 each month. Gig Harbor’s mayor earns $1,500.

Council members have struggled to come to a conclusion, as they’re uncertain what the strong mayor position will look like.

This is unfamiliar ground. The city of Snohomish has operated with a council-manager form of government for the past 45 years.

A strong mayor has the option to work full or part time. The mayor also can choose to hire a city administrator, who would have similar responsibilities as the current city manager. An administrator would handle day-to-day operations, while the mayor takes on a policy-making role.

The salary for a city administrator can be well into six-figures. Bauman earns $146,067.

People have shared concerns in council meetings about paying for two executive salaries.

Councilwoman Karen Guzak said she envisions the new strong mayor earning a comparable salary to mayors in like-sized towns. She also sees a need for a city administrator who can help shoulder the workload and provide expertise.

“There’s too much financial, management and human resource experience required,” Guzak said. “The city is a $30 million endeavour. That needs someone with expertise to run it.”

A proposed salary must be submitted to the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office by mid-May.

Tuesday’s council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Snohomish School District Resource Center.

Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins @heraldnet.com.

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