At the end of the Dec. 3 Snohomish City Council meeting, Mayor John Kartak invited input from the Snohomish community over the issue of the mayor’s salary. Specifically, whether the small town of Snohomish (population under 10,000 with fewer than 50 employees) needs two city administrators: Steve Schuller and Mayor Kartak.
Background: In 2017, the council set the elected mayor’s salary at $18,000 annually with the expectation the new mayor would hire a full-time city administrator to manage city employees, concurrent with a part-time mayor having no set hours.
In December, 2017 the newly elected mayor Kartak hired Steve Schuller as city administrator with an annual salary soon approaching $170,000.
Here’s the rub: The mayor is now asking the community to lobby the council to give himself a full-time salary as he claims he puts in 11 hours every day (presumably meeting the public and attending meetings to learn about city government). It seems about every six months, the mayor’s salary issue resurfaces.
In my opinion, to settle this issue, the council should appoint an independent citizens salary commission in 2020 for comparisons with other small towns under 10,000 with an elected mayor-council form of government. Then at the beginning of 2021, the council would vote to accept or reject the recommended salary, just in time for the mayoral candidates filing period.
Doing so, would avoid any appearance of bias the council may have by raising the salary now in the middle of a four year term.