The Spokane City Council sent a measure to the August ballot Monday night that, if approved by voters, will change the city charter to allow the Salary Review Commission to set the mayor’s pay.
Currently, the city charter states that the mayor must be the highest-paid employee at City Hall other than the city administrator, wording that was reaffirmed by voters in 2011.
In 2014, Mayor David Condon was paid $172,000. His pay was set to increase to nearly $180,000 this year, matching that of police Chief Frank Straub, the employee with the highest base salary at City Hall in 2015. The pay increase was part of Condon’s 2015 budget proposal, which he argued was in keeping with the city charter. After public uproar and pressure from City Council members, the mayor said he wouldn’t take the raise but demanded a long-term solution, leading to Monday’s decision to send the issue to voters.
During Monday night’s discussion, Councilman Jon Snyder attempted to “reset” the mayor’s pay to $150,000 in 2016, arguing that the salary commission would be unlikely to lower the mayor’s pay from its current high mark. Snyder’s amendment died with no support. When the final vote came, Snyder was the sole member to vote against it, saying it would “enshrine” the mayor’s pay at more than $170,000 if approved by voters.
The salary commission has five positions, which must be filled by Spokane residents who are registered to vote. At least one person from each of the three council districts must be on the commission.
Commission members are nominated by the mayor and appointed by the council. Their terms last four years and are staggered so the members aren’t replaced all at one time.
According to city law, the members must have experience in “finance, business management or personnel management” or have other experience that can help determine the pay of elected officials. No employee or official of City Hall can sit on the commission, nor can anyone in their immediate family.
Two of the positions, one representing the south part of Spokane and the other the northwest part of the city, currently are vacant.
Bob Beaumier, a former city attorney and current chairman of the state’s Citizen Committee on Pipeline Safety, is an at-large member whose term ends this year.
Alexander Scott, a business consultant who owns Quokka Consulting with business interests in Australia and West Africa, is also an at-large member. Dick Barrett, a former Republican state legislator, is on the commission representing the northeast district of Spokane. Scott and Barrett’s terms run through 2017.
The salary commission sets the pay of City Council members, the City Council president and municipal judges, who are all elected.
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