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Mayor's salary could be reduced

Council wants a mayor focused on the future of the City


Last updated 11/27/2019 at 1:49pm

Mukilteo City Council voted 3-3, with one abstention, on an ordinance to decrease the mayor’s salary to $30,000 without benefits. Since the vote ended in a tie, the ordinance failed. Councilmember Anna Rohrbough was the one abstention, yet later asked for a re-vote.  

Rohrbough brought up another motion to bring the mayor’s salary to $36,000 without benefits, which will be discussed at the next regular meeting Dec. 2.

If approved, the decreased salary will take effect Jan. 1, 2022, and the mayoral position will change from full-time to part-time. The salary of the mayor can be increased during a term, but only decreased starting with the next term, according to staff reports.

“I think this is a step in the right direction,” Councilmember Steve Schmalz said. “We’re just trying to improve things here.”

The City of Mukilteo is code city organized under a mayor-council form of government. The mayor is the independently elected chief executive and administrative officer of the City. 

According to the mayor-council form of government, the mayor is responsible for overseeing that all laws and ordinances of the City are enforced, supervising the City staff and presenting a proposed budget for City Council review and adoption. The mayor is the official and ceremonial head of the City.

The mayor’s salary was most recently adjusted in 2009 and became effective Jan. 25, 2010. This pay increase brought the yearly salary to $70,800 per year, including City benefits (medical, dental, vision, and retirement).

The salary of the mayor has changed over time as the duties and responsibilities of the position have evolved. In the early years of the City, the position was compensated the same as the council. After 1984, the mayor’s salary was set separately from City Council compensation. 

In 1984, annual compensation for mayor was $5,100. In 1994, that number changed to $8,400. In 1998, it was adjusted to $16,800. In 2002, it became $21,600. In 2007, the salary increased to $30,000. In 2009, the number jumped to $70,800. 

Councilmember Sarah Kneller expressed concern about the type of candidate who would run for mayor if the salary was cut. She said the City would see less time out of this individual if they had to get another part-time job on the side. 

Kneller said she was unaware that the salary in the proposed ordinance was set at $30,000. She wanted to take more time for community feedback before a decision was finalized. 

“We can look at it is as we might not get as strong a candidate or we can look at it as we might get a stronger candidate,” said Rohrbough. “This could be a way to bring in stronger candidates.”

Rohrbough suggested bringing the topic back up in a year or two when the new councilmembers can voice their opinions. She said the current council is already trying to govern the next council.

“My only issue with this is that we’re governing something that the council in Jan. 1, 2020, can effectively change just like that,” she said. “This council right now wants to govern our next council in two years.” 

Councilmember Scott Whelpley voted to approve the ordinance. He said lowering the salary will stop people from using the position as a stepping stone to get to a higher form of government. He wants a mayor who is concerned about the well-being of Mukilteo.

Whelpley said the mayor can choose specific days off or he/she can choose to work 50-60 hours a week. He believes this will avoid political agenda-setting and end division within the City and the council.

“It’s for public service. We are doing this to serve the public, not to put a dollar in our pocket,” Whelpley said. “It’s about taking care of our neighbors. And we’ve lost our way.”


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