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September 22, 1997

Local News

Council to vote on pay raise

  by Andrew Walgamott
   WOODINVILLE--After considering buying computer equipment and phone lines, the City Council will vote on pay raises tonight, though support for the measure seems to be lacking.
   Under Woodinville Councilmember Barbara Solberg's proposal, councilmembers would receive an additional $200 a month and the mayor's salary would be upped by $300 a month.
   Currently, the council receives $400, and the mayor receives $500.
   If passed, councilmembers would be paid $600 a month, and the mayor would be recompensed $700 a month. Raises wouldn't take effect until the year 2000, though, as sitting councils can't vote themselves an increase in salary, according to state law.
   After Solberg brought the pay raise idea to the council Sept. 2, Finance Director Jim Katica was asked to investigate the price of installing computers, phone lines and faxes at councilmember homes.
   The argument for equipment instead of pay was that communications' gear could make councilmembers more efficient.
   During last week's study session, Katica said new computers with fax modem cords would cost $2,200 with computer support costing $500 annually. Internet access as well as a phone line would cost $20 a month apiece. A cell phone would total $50 a month and pagers were estimated at $10 a month.
   Solberg argued that being an effective councilmember could increase with the use of technology, but said that issue was separate from compensation, adding that it shouldn't be a choice between the two.
   In a prepared statement, she wrote, "I am being honest when I say I believe when you do a good job, you deserve good pay."
   During discussion, Councilmember Lucy DeYoung was aware that Solberg didn't have enough votes to pass the pay raise and asked what she wanted to do.
   Solberg said she had a "privilege" and a "right" to bring the issue up.
   DeYoung asked again, "What do you need to close this issue?" to which Solberg responded "What would it take to discuss what I want?"
   Mayor Miller interrupted the two, saying, "Let's end this discussion. It's not going anywhere."
   It wasn't clear what Solberg had wanted to discuss.
   The issue was then put on the agenda for tonight's meeting.
   Later, several councilmembers said they were hesitant to support a pay raise. Deputy Mayor Don Brocha said he would probably vote against it, explaining he wasn't "going to vote ourselves a pay raise when we're asking everyone to tighten their belts," a sentiment echoed by Councilmembers Marsha Engel and DeYoung. The council recently created a $1.75 million Civic Center Reserve Fund to potentially purchase the Sorenson complex and turned down requests for additional funds from the Tourism Partnership and Woodinville Farmer's Market. However, Engel hinted that she might vote for more money if she knew the exact price the Northshore School District wanted for Sorenson.
   Mayor Miller said he might be inclined to vote for the raise, but opposed purchasing equipment. "We need to be very careful with commitments with long range implications," saying pagers and faxes had ongoing costs. "If it gets voted in, it's done, if not, it's over, period," Miller said of the issue.