Raises approved for Sequim council, city manager
By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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City Manager Steve Burkett also received a raise Monday night. His 3 percent raise is retroactive to March 1, while the council raises will go into effect only after the next elections for the seats.
The council voted 6-1 Monday night to increase compensation for the elected seats.
Councilman Erik Erichsen voted against the increase.
“I do not feel that serving on the City Council or any other public office as an elected official should be compensated at all,” Erichsen said.
“I think by and large, the reason we have career politicians is because of compensation.”
The change raises council member pay from $150 to $250 a month, with the mayor pro tem’s wages rising from $200 to $330 and the mayor from $250 to $410.
The $20 council members receive for attending up to four special meetings per month has been deleted.
Council 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, 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.
The vote for the council increases came before a unanimous decision to give Burkett a 3 percent raise.
Council members voted to increase Burkett’s annual salary to $131,078 from the current $127,260.
“I think it’s a very good proposal, and I support it,” Miller said.
The council rated Burkett’s performance at 9.1 on a 10-point scale in a special meeting April 12.
Burkett received a 5 percent raise last year.
He was hired by the city in 2009 at a salary of $120,000.
Once in effect, the council raises will cost the city $2,971 more per year, City Finance Manager Connie Anderson said Tuesday.
Dubois said she supported increasing council member pay to adjust for inflation and because it helps members with council-related expenses, such as driving to regional meetings outside of Clallam County.
“I feel this is not a huge compensation, and it’s certainly not anywhere [near what] could be considered a career position at this salary,” Dubois said.
Hays said he could see Erichsen’s point but thought some compensation for the job is appropriate.
Hays added that doing away with pay completely could potentially allow only those who can afford to take the time to serve on the council to run for office.
“It should not cost us money out of our pocket to be able to serve the community,” Hayes said.
In Port Angeles, the mayor is paid $650 per month; the deputy mayor, $600; and other council members $500.
Port Townsend’s mayor gets $750 per month, while the deputy mayor receives $500, and the rest of the council members get $500.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, council members voted 6-1, with Starr opposed, to keep in place a six-month moratorium on marijuana businesses.
City Attorney Craig Ritchie said the vote only affirms the ban on pot shops, put in place Feb. 24, and does not add time to it.
Council members will have to vote to keep the moratorium in place six months from Feb. 24.
During a public hearing before the vote, resident David Halpern spoke in favor of allowing pot businesses, citing research he had compiled that he said showed the substance’s positive health benefits.
Miller said he supported the temporary ban because he wants to wait until the state can combine the regulatory systems for both medical and recreational marijuana.
“People have waited for marijuana legalization this long; they can wait a few months longer,” Miller said.
In November 2012, state voters approved Initiative 502, which created a legal market for recreational marijuana.
Sequim voters gave 52 percent approval to the measure, which passed in Clallam County by 55 percent and in Jefferson County by 65 percent.
Council members also voted 6-1, with Erichsen opposed, to create a city arts advisory commission that would review pieces of art proposed for the city.
The five- to seven-member commission, comprising council members and at least three residents, would act as an advisory body to the full council.
The same vote also adopted a public arts policy the commission and council would use as guidelines for choosing public art for the city.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at email@example.com.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie contributed to this report.
Last modified: April 29. 2014 7:17PM