The recently implemented Monroe Salary Commission presented to Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas and Monroe City Council members on Tuesday, June 23, announcing that elected officials in the City of Monroe will receive a pay raise effective July 1.
The commission voted to increase council compensation by $200 per month, which will bring the monthly salary for councilmembers up to $800 per month. The commission also voted to increase the mayor's compensation by $600 per month, which will bring the mayor salary up to $3,600 per month.
Currently, council members elected in November 2013, or later, earn $600 per month, while council members elected prior to 2013 earn $100 per meeting, with a maximum salary of $400 per month. This was due to council action in October 2013 when the council voted to transition from a per-meeting payment structure to a flat monthly rate.
Since council members are prohibited from voting on their own pay raise, only council members elected or re-elected in November 2013 were eligible for the increase.
Prior to October 2013, council compensation had not been adjusted since 1999.
The advantage of adopting a salary commission is that any salary adjustments affect all members of the council, regardless of their term of office. This is more streamlined than the current method of having to maintain two separate salary structures. The council confirmed the new three-person commission in May, appointing Monroe residents Brian Coonan, Erin Angus-Snapka and Dave Van Kirk to the commission.
Originally intended to be a five-person commission, the city is still seeking two additional candidates.
Salary Commissioner Brian Coonan presented the commission's findings.
He explained that during its deliberations, the Salary Commission examined the elected official pay structure in several cities with comparable populations to Monroe, including Arlington, Lake Stevens, Bonney Lake, Tumwater, Oak Harbor, Snoqualmie and Battle Ground.
"Although most of these cities currently have compensations that are equal to the Monroe compensation that we currently have, we did find out that for all these cities they were only meeting twice a month as a council,GÇ¥ Coonan said.
Monroe elected officials attend four to five council meetings per month.
"That's one of the reasons why we looked at increasing your compensation,GÇ¥ Coonan said. "You actually met twice as much as the other cities.GÇ¥
Committee meeting attendance by council members was comparable from place to place. Monroe City Council members serve on several committees, including the Transportation Planning, Public Works, Parks and Recreation and Public Safety Committee (P4), the Finance and Human Resources Committee and the Legislative Affairs Committee.
The commission also learned that in some cities, mayors and councilmembers are compensated for attending civic events.
"You would be surprised to find out that for some cities, the council and the mayor get paid for some of the civic-event activities like ribbon-cuttings and things like that,GÇ¥ Coonan said.
The mayor and the council members in Monroe are not compensated for such events.
Another factor in the decision, Coonan explained, was the commission's desire to attract a larger selection of candidates during election time. During the 2013 election, Councilmember Patsy Cudaback ran unopposed. This November, Councilmember Ed Davis will run unopposed.
Since its implementation in May, the commission has held two meetings and scheduled an additional meeting to take place in August. Beginning next year, the Salary Commission will meet every year in August. Commissioners voted unanimously to increase mayor and council compensation on June 4.
Other cities with salary commissions include Everett, Mukilteo, Lynnwood, Bothell, Bonney Lake, Redmond, Marysville, Oak Harbor and many others. According to the Municipal Research and Services Center, at least 35 Washington cities have adopted a salary commission.
For more information about the Monroe Salary Commission, visit www.monroewa.gov/index.aspx?nid=546.
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