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September 8, 1997

Local News

Council pay raise may go for faxes, e-mail instead

  by Andrew Walgamott
   What's up with these guys? Given the chance to vote themselves a fifty percent pay raise, the Woodinville City Council chose instead to study the cost of faxes, phone lines and computer links to make them better councilmembers.
   Councilmember Barbara Solberg broached the pay raise at last Tuesday's Woodinville City Council meeting. "I'm not embarrassed. I'm not ashamed. This is a practical issue that needs to be addressed," she said. Solberg's proposal included a $200 a month pay hike for councilmembers, and an additional $100 a month for the mayor.
   Currently, the City Council is paid $400 a month, and the mayor receives $500. The pay scale was adopted by council at incorporation in 1993. By comparison, councilmembers in Kirkland receive $650 a month plus benefits, while those in Bothell garner $250 a month, though that number may soon change, city documents say. According to Woodinville Finance Director Jim Katica, the entire council is compensated $34,800 a year.
   Backing her proposal, Solberg wrote to fellow councilmembers, "Responsibilities of council are different than they were in 1993, and they will be different in 2000. However, the hours spent on council work and committee membership is increasing and is expected to increase with more responsibilities coming to councils with the increasing magnitude of change in growth and development in the region."
   During discussion, Councilmember Lucy DeYoung worried that a pay raise would send the wrong message to the community. She said a fatter paycheck would seem hypocritical in the face of the city's mustering of $1.75 million for the purchase of a civic center, and recent requests for additional funding from the Tourism Partnership and Farmer's Market that were turned down.
   City Council candidates in the audience were offered the chance to speak as well. Randy Ransom, running for position #1 against Richard Reed, said a better approach than a raise was to offer a benefit of some sort, a call taken up by Councilmember Scott Hageman. He suggested improving communication links such as fax machines and e-mail capabilities.
   "To me that would enhance doing a better job, and that's what we're looking at," Hageman said. Councilmember Art Saulness said he would prefer raises be set aside for training, calling the move "an investment by the city into its councilmembers." Solberg gave her nod to finding "tools to help the city council do its job efficiently."
   City staff will review non-paid raises with council Sept. 15, according to Katica.