Thursday, October 28, 2010

Salary Commission asks: how do councilmembers see themselves - as citizen-councillors or paid professionals?

Redmond City Council
UDATED:  With direction from Council and in accordance with municipal code, the Mayor appointed  seven citizens to sit on a Salary Commission to decide if Council should get a raise.  Last night, I attended the third (of seven) Salary Commission meetings.  A public Hearing is scheduled for November 10.

It's been six years since Redmond's elected officials' compensation was reviewed.  In that time, the CPI has increased 16.5%.  Redmond city councilmembers are paid $10,500/year as part-time city employees and some receive health care benefits.  Each councilmember works an average about 90 hours/month.  Hourly pay is approximately $10.50/hour with no cell phone or milage allowance.  Some work a lot more, others less.  Most councilmembers have full or part-time jobs.   

Commissioner Mary Bourguignon raised a policy question:  "Are we to look at Redmond council as a "citizen-council" doing public service and paid an honorarium OR as salaried professionals, paid a pro-rated salary?

Commissioner Marilyn Rice asked, "Do we want to act as a small city"?  Commissioner Bourguigonon said she used to work for the City of Seattle City Council where the Mayor had a paid chauffeur as part of his automobile allowance.   Commissioner Rice asked:   "How does council view themselves"?   Commissioner David Chicks suggested the Reporter run a poll to engage the community on these questions, though concluded they are not statistically valid.

Commissioner Karin Duval started a discussion on the number of candidates participating in the last council election.  Commissioner Sally Chen said she and three councilmembers (Vache, Stilin, Allen) ran for council office in the last election.  Vache' and Stilin ran unopposed.   One commissioner asked why candidate turnout is so low.  Commissioner Randy Coggan bluntly concluded:   "Apathy".  Ms. Chen suggested younger candidates on lower incomes may be less likely to dive into a race. 

COLA's were discussed by committee facilitator, Kerry Seivers (HR Director).  Most cities use the CPI-W index to benchmark adjustments.  Redmond is one of the few cities using a more flexible and some might say more subjective "nonuniform index".  The city HR department includes some of the largest employers in the city and small businesses, along with municipalities in their index.  Commissioner Sherry Sanders asked if LWSD salaries were included in the nonuniform index.  Ms. Seivers' immediate response was "yes" and then changed it to something less.  Ms. Sanders indicated LWSD shouldn't be included in the nonuniform index. 

The CPI-W increased 16.5% since council's last 2004 pay adjustment.  How will the Salary Commission keep Council's COLA uniform with the rest of Redmond's city workers?  CPI-W appears the only constant.    

The Salary Commission is holding a public Hearing on Wednesday, November 10 in the City Hall Council Conference Room (1st floor).  Public is invited to address the Commissioners and staff.   The Mayor's compensation will be reviewed later this year by Council in open Hearings.

Reported by Bob Yoder
This is my first report on the Salary Commission and I am unfamiliar all the commissioners and their names.

1 comment:

Councilmember Kim Allen said...

Councilmember Kim Allen says...

Dave(Carson) and I are not yet working on the Council handbook (and council job description). We are pretty focused on budget for the foreseeable future. We will not be providing any information to the Salary Commission because we are prohibited from communicating with them once they have convened."

....from an email