Mukilteo Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

At the max!


Last updated 5/4/2011 at Noon

As residents brace for another round of tax increases, I recently checked the city’s 2011 budget book to see if I could locate areas where Mukilteo could cut costs and suggest where to save money.

One area I took a look at was the salaries and benefits of city employees. The city is projected to pay more than $8 million in salaries and more than $3 million in benefits in 2011.

For a city population of about 20,000, I thought that was high, so I wanted to see what each city position was paid annually and what were the cost of benefits for each position, especially the non-emergency positions (non police and firefighter).

Having not found the information in the budget book and not on the city’s Web site, I filled out a Public Disclosure Form and requested the information.

The city provided me just the salary ranges – already in the budget book – and not the actual salaries. For example, the assistant of planning and community development position has a salary range of $83,952-$102,044. This does not include cost of benefits.

Since I didn’t get the information I requested, I filled out another Public Disclosure Form and again asked for the annual salary and benefits of each city position. About a week later, I received the information.

What was surprising was that every non-emergency position is paid at the maximum end of the pay scale range. Using the example from above, the assistant of planning and community development employee is paid $102,044 annually with about $25,000 paid in benefits.

There are no positions that are paid at the minimum, middle or even three-fourths of the pay scale range. There are three positions that are paid beyond the maximum pay range.

The city administrator, the finance director and the recreation and cultural services manager are paid $123,000, $105,453 and $93,859 respectfully. Not including benefits.

Mukilteo taxpayers pay the mayor and the city administrator close to a quarter of $1 million annually in salary and benefits. Some cities save half this cost by having only a city manager.

I asked a councilmember about these salaries, and he told me that the city council has never seen a breakdown of individual salaries and benefits – only what is in the budget book, just the overall totals.

It is troubling when the city council is asking citizen input on how to cut costs and save money, and they have yet to analyze the salary structure of each city position.

What qualifies all non-emergency employees to be at the maximum end of the salary range? Is it performance, experience or both? What if these salaries were drawn back to mid-range levels and benefits were cut by 10-15 percent? How much would the taxpayer save? I bet we wouldn’t need a tax increase.

This is not a witch hunt on public employees, and there maybe a perfectly logical explanation of these salaries, but Mukilteo residents are facing a $300,000-plus tax increase on our water and sewer service and already have endured a garbage tax, an EMS Levy and property tax increases over the past year.

The city has yet to offer any spending cuts, only tax increases on the backs of Mukilteo residents, to cover any budget deficit gap.


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