Vote implements raises suggested by recently abolished salary commission
BATTLE GROUND — Members of the Battle Ground City Council voted to approve raises to the salaries of council positions Monday night, after a decision at the Sep. 18 meeting to abolish a volunteer salary commission.
The salary commission was abolished by a vote of the city council on Sep. 18, after Mayor Philip Johnson expressed concern that he had unintentionally misled the volunteer commissioners as to the length of time they would serve on the commission.
In that council meeting, Johnson said that he had told the commissioners their time on the commission would only last a short time to review the council salaries. However, the language of the ordinance establishing the salary commission meant that the commissioners would sit on the volunteer commission for up to four years.
The newly approved ordinance will raise the mayor’s salary to $750 per month, up by $200 from the current salary of $550 per month. City council member salaries will increase to $600 per month, an increase of $200 over the current $400 per month salary.
According to Johnson, the raises are the same amounts proposed by the salary commission. However, the new ordinance staggers the implementation of the raises.
Council positions 1,4,5 and 6 will receive the new salary beginning Jan. 1, 2018. Positions 2,3 and 7 will receive raises effective Jan. 1, 2020.
In citizen testimony at the Sep. 18 council meeting, Tim Gaughan, one of the former salary commissioners, said that the proposed raises brought the salaries of the mayor and the city council on par with equivalently sized cities throughout the state of Washington.
Gaughan also said that the last raise for the council was in 2007.
The ordinance to approve the raises passed 6-1, with only Deputy Mayor Steven Phelps voting against the raises.
Phelps said that he voted no for several reasons. He said that disbanding the city’s salary commission created “very difficult feelings,” and that he did not agree with how the commission was handled by the city council.
Phelps also said that in the future the city council would have to ask citizens of Battle Ground to consider increased taxes to continue to provide and improve services within the city. “I think the timing is suspect,” Phelps said.
“I don’t do this job for the money,” Phelps said, and noted that he believed the other council members in Battle Ground felt the same way.
Council member Brian Munson asked if another salary commission would be possible in the future, since the previous commission had been abolished. Johnson said that a new salary commission could be created, but not until 2018 or 2019 due to budget planning.