Two ballot measures are before Spokane voters this primary election, one that should be familiar and another that won’t.
Proposition 1 will allow the city’s Salary Review Commission to set the mayor’s pay. The measure is the culmination of a heated discussion between Mayor David Condon and the Spokane City Council after the mayor’s 2015 budget proposal included a nearly $7,000 pay raise for his position.
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. This ballot measure would again amend the city charter.
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 this ballot measure.
The salary commission currently sets the pay of City Council members, the City Council president and municipal judges, who are all elected.
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. The positions are unpaid.
Condon has championed the ballot measure, which was approved for the ballot by the City Council.
Proposition 2 will formalize the city’s municipal court in the city charter.
Currently, the court is described only in the city’s municipal code. If approved by voters, the court will be enshrined in the charter, which is the city’s basic ruling document and can only be amended by a vote of the people.
The municipal court has limited jurisdiction and can only deal with criminal misdemeanors and civil infractions such as parking violations, driving without a valid license, drunken driving, minor theft and domestic violence assaults.
Howard Delaney, the court’s administrator, said the ballot measure is “really just housekeeping and formalizing what was done by ordinance previously.”
“All this is doing is continuing to formalize the court by putting it in the charter, because it is a branch of government,” Delaney said. “The mayor is detailed in the charter. The council is detailed there. Now the court will be.”
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