Saturday, November 1, 2014
You've heard the city council and administration call each other out over their salaries and budget proposals. You've watched the mayor say, after giving himself a $7,000 raise in next year's budget, "Actually, no thanks." And now you'll spend the next few weeks hearing about the final haggling over the 2015 budget, which, while it won't include the mayor's raise, will dole out some city executives' salaries that are, we're going to guess, a lot higher than what you're taking home this year.
So, take this opportunity to share how you think salaries should be set for leadership in City Hall, especially the mayor.
City Councilman Mike Fagan will host three public forums to discuss the first part of what he calls a "two-phased" plan. First, he wants to hear from citizens about how the mayor's salary should be set and what sort of starting place and cap for the pay should be in place. In the longer term, Fagan says he hopes to push for changes that could allow the city to pay others at high levels in City Hall less per year, but that will require changes to state bargaining laws.
The forums will be:
Wednesday, Nov. 5, 6-8 pm, at the Northeast Community Center (4004 N. Cook St.)
Thursday, Nov. 6, 6-8 pm, at the East Community Center (500 S. Stone)
Friday, Nov. 14, 10-11:30 am, in the City Council Briefing Center at City Hall (808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd)
Spokane Mayor David Condon's salary — about $172,500 this year — is currently set to match that of the city's highest paid employee, according to the city charter. (Last year, that employee was the fire chief and this year it will be the police chief.)
Fagan says he's considered a few possibilities for changing how the mayor's salary is set, including leaving it up to the salary review commission, which sets the council members' pay, or tying the mayor's pay to median household income in Spokane, which is about $42,000, so that whenever that increased or decreased, the mayor's salary would, too. Any changes to the city charter have to be done through a public vote. The next available time for a special city election is in February, but Fagan says he's likely to wait until April, when the school district and STA are considering floating their own ballot measures.
"What I'm looking to do is to answer the public's questions with regard to how did we get there and what are we going to do about it?" Fagan says of the forums. "There was a shockwave that did go out through the community with regard to [news of the mayor's pay raise]. The people paying the bills — the taxpayers — need to have a say in this, to know how it happened and what we can do make sure doesn’t happen again."