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Buckley council members decide against pay raises

By Jessica Keller, The Courier-Herald

Buckley city officials, including City Council members and the mayor, won't be receiving raises any time soon, although the possibility may be decided on early next year.

At the Dec. 9 City Council meeting, the City Council decided to postpone voting on increasing the council members and mayor's salaries so a salary commission, made up of Buckley citizens, could address the issue.

The council was initially going to vote on the mayor's salary, increasing it from $200 to $500, and beginning 2005, the mayor's salary would be reviewed annually during the budget process. The mayor pro tem would also receive an additional $50/ month stipend in addition to his or her regular monthly stipend.

The council was going to vote on council members salaries, as well, but it was a recommendation of the administrative/personnel/finance committee to look into that more before voting on the matter. The council originally proposed raising the members' compensation from $150 per month to $250 per month beginning Jan. 1, 2006.

However, City Administrator Dave Schmidt said, there was some confusion concerning when council members could vote on council pay increases. He said according to an RCW, council members can't enact an increase during the term that they are serving. So those councilmen in the middle of their four year terms, and are up for re-election in 2005, could not see the pay raise until 2006. As for those councilmen reelected this year, since their new terms don't begin until 2004, they would not be voting on an increase during their current term. However, the state constitution says council members can not vote on an increase that would affect them at all, which means an increase could not go into effect at all until 2008. Schmidt said he asked different lawyers on the interpretation of the matter, and they had differing opinions. So, when proposed to the council, the council decided to let a salary commission determine their salaries, instead of waiting until 2008.

Buckley citizen Marvin Sundstrom spoke addressing the issue, urging the council to let a salary commission decide, stating it would be an equitable way to decide what Buckley officials deserve.

Schmidt said an ordinance to form a salary commission would probably be established and approved the beginning of next year.

Planning commissioners also recently voted to not give them a council proposed meeting stipend of $25 per meeting at the Nov. 3 meeting, and at the City Council meeting commissioner Chairman Wolfe Schneider read a letter to the council formally refusing the stipend, although thanking the council for its consideration.

The City Council proposed to offer a stipend as an incentive for people to join the time-consuming planning commission and to attend meetings. The commission currently has six filled positions and one vacancy, however, beginning Jan. 01, the commission will only have five filled positions because current commissioner Beverly Schneider will assume her position as a council member.

According to the letter from the Planning Commission to the council, the commissioners felt the planning commission was a voluntary committment, as it is in most places, and were more comfortable serving the community on a voluntary basis.

Jessica Keller can be reached at jkeller@courierherald.com

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