Vancouver Salary Review Commission approves raises for city council, mayor

The council members will receive a three percent raise next year, with a two percent raise in 2020.

VANCOUVER — The 2018 version of the Vancouver Salary Review Commission ended with much less drama than the one two years ago. On Wednesday the five-member panel unanimously approved raises for city council, the mayor pro tem, and the mayor.

Vancouver resident Barbara Daniels addresses the Vancouver Salary Review Commission Wednesday. Photo by Chris Brown
Vancouver resident Barbara Daniels addresses the Vancouver Salary Review Commission Wednesday. Photo by Chris Brown

Last time the commission more than doubled the mayor’s salary, and gave council members a 50 percent raise. Those raises were eventually overturned after a petition gathering process was started by former mayor Royce Pollard, and the group eventually settled on four percent raises each of the past two years.

This time around raises will be more modest, rising by three percent next year, and another two percent in 2020. That means the annual salaries of the council will be as follows:

2018:

Council Member – $23,364

Mayor Pro Tem – $25,956

Mayor – $29,856

2019:

Council Member – $24,060

Mayor Pro Tem – $26,736

Mayor – $30,756

2020:

Council Member – $24,540

Mayor Pro Tem – $27,276

Mayor – $31,368

At Wednesday morning’s meeting, three citizens spoke, including former mayor Royce Pollard who has followed the commission’s discussion closely. Peter Hodges wondered whether salary increases for the council could be based on a criteria, such as whether they’re able to stay on budget, and keep tax increases down.

“Just like we’ll give you a one percent increase if you get within a budget,” Hodges said, “right now I don’t think they’re earning it. They’re not doing their job.”

The Vancouver Salary Review Commission -- from left to right: Teresa Meyer, Magan Reed, Chair MarCine Miles, Richard Humphreys, Frank L’Amie -- are shown here at Wednesday’s meeting. Photo by Chris Brown
The Vancouver Salary Review Commission — from left to right: Teresa Meyer, Magan Reed, Chair MarCine Miles, Richard Humphreys, Frank L’Amie — are shown here at Wednesday’s meeting. Photo by Chris Brown

Commission Chair MarCine Miles pointed out that making such a change in the criteria of the salary commission, which was formed in 1994, likely falls outside the scope of what the Salary Review Commission is currently capable of. But she and other members urged Hodges to take his ideas to the City Council.

“You have raised the fundamental question about responsiveness in government,” said Commission member Richard Humphreys, “and it’s a serious question. I don’t think that there’s a member of this commission that doesn’t a) understand what you said, and b) get it.”

Pollard attended the meeting, but hadn’t signed up to speak. After Hodges comments he asked to address the panel, thanking “most of them” for doing a good job.

“The comments that were just made I think are valid,” Pollard said, “because a lot of citizens in this community are feeling the same thing.”

Pollard had recommended the primary factor in determining raises was to look at what city employees are getting, and stick closer to those numbers.

Miles and Magan Reed were the only members of the Salary Commission to have been around during the controversy of 2016. Miles took a few moments after the raise was unanimously approved to recognize the lessons learned from that.

“This commission worked together very effectively as a unit,” she tells Clark County Today, “and when you’re making these kinds of decisions it’s important that there be consensus, that issues be discussed and resolved, and move on.”

Miles says she’s not sure who Pollard was leaving off of his thanks for a job well done, but assumes it’s just his sense of humor. She also says the commission wanted to be sure to balance the realization that council positions are part-time, with the understanding that fair compensation helps to encourage a strong and diverse group of candidates to run.

Raises, once approved by the Salary Review Commission, are final, and do not need to be voted on by the full council.

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