Sequim City Council pay ‘simplification’ discussed

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– The City Council is considering giving itself a pay raise — with none coming into effect until after the next election for specific seats.

Council members briefly discussed the proposal during Monday’s regular meeting during which Councilman Ted Miller said is “really not a pay increase, but more of a pay simplification.”

The proposal would increase monthly base pay to council members while eliminating compensation for special meetings.

Council member pay would rise from $150 to $250, with the mayor pro tem’s wages rising from $200 to $330 and the mayor from $250 to $410.

Members of the council now also receive $20 for special meetings up to $80 per month.

Miller called for the raises, saying pay is emblematic of a person’s value.

“People respect people on the basis of how much their wealth is and how much their income is,” Miller said.

He said the council’s current pay — “one-fifth of what a burger flipper down at McDonald’s gets” — is “embarassing.”

Raises would not take effect until the next election for individual seats: 2016 for those now held by Mayor Candace Pratt and council members Ken Hays, Erik Erichsen and Laura Dubois, and 2018 for the seat now held by Mayor Pro Tem Dennis Smith and council members Ted Miller and Genaveve Starr.

None of the other council members commented on the increase and there was no vote.

The topic is scheduled for further discussion at the council’s next two meetings, April 28 and May 12.

The proposed raises would increase the cost to the city by $2,760 over the next four years.

Miller hailed the idea as bringing parity to the Sequim City Council when compared with the pay of other councils.

“This would get us close to what Port Angeles has,” Miller said.

Council members in Port Angeles receive $550 per month, with the mayor pro tem paid $600 and the mayor $650.

Port Townsend pays its council members and mayor pro tem $500 a month, with the mayor receiving $750.

Also Monday, the council extended its ordinance limiting signs in strip malls.

The ordinance passed in October 2012 requires portable signs used to advertise special sales be set back 40 feet from public streets or have permanent structures on which businesses in the strip malls could post their specials.

The ordinance had a one-year “sunset provision” which expired last October, City Attorney Craig Ritchie said before asking the council to make the ordinance permanent.

“We just want you to reinstate the thing that seems to be working,” Ritchie told the council.

Nobody spoke during the public hearing that preceded the council’s vote to extend the ordinance.

The city issued one $125 fine to the now-closed Tarcisio’s Italian Place in the Sequim Village Plaza shopping center on West Washington Street for posting a non-compliant sign advertising specials too close to the street.

The fine, issued in February 2013, was paid by former Mayor Walt Schubert.

Tarcisio’s was later allowed to hang a “specials” sign on a permanent post installed by the shopping center’s management before closing last October.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: April 15. 2014 6:17PM
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