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City manager, future councilors receive pay increases

Sequim City Manager Steve Burkett will see a 3-percent raise following his high marks from a recent annual review.

Future Sequim City councilors will see an increase too in their salaries starting in 2016.

Councilors unanimously ap-proved Burkett’s increase on Monday, April 28, while Councilor Erik Erichsen opposed a council increase.

Mayor Candace Pratt and Mayor Pro-tem Dennis Smith discussed Burkett’s raise after his review. Pratt said 3 percent is the average of what 21 other exempt employees, administrators, received on Jan. 1.

After the meeting, Elray Konkel, Sequim administrative services director, said the administrators received 1- to 5-percent increases after individual reviews.

Councilor Ted Miller said in the meeting that Burkett deserves more than a 3 percent raise but the city is restrained by its budget.

“In comparison with what staff got it’s a very good proposal,” he said.

Burkett scored a 9.1 overall rating from his review. He started with the city in October 2009 earning $120,000.

In January 2013, he and 21 other non-union employees began paying 10 percent toward their medical benefits. Burkett was given about $100 more a month to offset the costs.

In April 2013, Burkett received a 5-percent merit increase bringing his salary up to $127,260 a year.

His new base salary will be $131,078 with the 3-percent increase. His contract also stipulates a long-term incentive program for retirement to encourage him to stay with the city through 2015.

City councilors pay

The Sequim City Council’s increases wouldn’t take effect until new or existing city councilors are elected/reelected.

The soonest increase for councilors like Laura Dubois, Erichsen and Ken Hays would be January 2016 if they were reelected.

With the changes, city councilors would receive $230 per month and $2,760 annually. The change increases salaries from $150 established in 1994 and eliminate $20 per month for extra meetings up to $80.

The mayor pro tem’s pay goes up from $200 to $330 per month/$3,960 per year and the mayor’s would go up from $250 to $410/$4,920 per year.

City staff estimates the annual increase with taxes to be at $2,971.

Erichsen voted against the changes saying he, city councilors and other public officials shouldn’t be compensated because it establishes career politicians.

“I do this as a patriotic service,” he said. “One hundred and fifty dollars is not going to increase our standard of living. It serves no purpose either way except to raise our income tax.”

Councilor Laura Dubois favored the increase because of expenses she incurs traveling to different board meetings.

“It simplifies the process and it’s not a huge compensation,” she said. “I couldn’t consider this a career position.”

Councilor Ted Miller said the the increase might help balance who might run for city council.

He said six of seven councilors are retired and the non-retired councilor (Ken Hays) made a time and financial sacrifice being on the council.

“Some compensation is appropriate,” Hays said. “It’d be a mistake not to compensate. We don’t want it to be a privilege of only those who can afford to do it. This should not cost us money out of our own pocket.”

Erichsen took offense to this and said he’s not of the privileged class.

Councilor Genaveve Starr favored the increase because it puts Sequim closer to other cities.

Currently, cities like Newcastle pay $700 and Port Angeles and Port Townsend pay city councilors salaries of $500 a month while cities like Chehalis pay $100 and Fircrest $121.55 per month with $100 for each regular meeting and $50 for each special council meeting.

Sequim city councilors still would be reimbursed for expenses.

 

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