A couple months after increasing the hours of the assistants for each City Council member, the Spokane City Council on Monday decided to maintain the council’s full-time senior executive assistant.
Jennifer Westfall, who holds a bachelor’s in business administration from Central Michigan University, was selected by City Council President Joe Shogan to fill the position, which was left vacant by the recent departure of longtime council executive Mary Franklin.
Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin was the lone vote against the hire. She said she had no problem with Westfall’s selection, but that given the forecast $10 million deficit in the 2011 budget, the $47,000 salary for the job is too high.
“My vote tonight has nothing to do about her,” McLaughlin said. “That $47,000 is overpaid (compared to) what the private sector is paying by about $10,000.”
But Shogan said he was conscious of the budget troubles and shaved duties from the position to lower the salary that had been paid to Franklin.
It could have been as high as $62,000 to $67,000, Shogan said.
Councilman Richard Rush said the job pays the same as similar assistant jobs in city government.
“We can’t single out an individual and say because you work for us, you have to work for less,” Rush said.
Councilman Bob Apple, who does not have a personal assistant, said the council’s budget is low compared to similar-size cities.
Westfall was hired to be a part-time assistant by former Councilman Mike Allen in February 2009. After he left office in November, she was the assistant for Councilman Jon Snyder. In January, she became the assistant for Councilwoman Amber Waldref.
The council began hiring personal secretaries in 2008. In February, the council increased hours for those assistants from 20 to 28 hours a week. The extra work cost the city an extra $50,000 in pay and pension benefits, which was covered by cutting the pay of the council’s unfilled auditor job and of Franklin and another council employee.