Mayor's salary a hot topic at council meeting

By Brandon Gustafson | Nov 08, 2017
Photo by: Beacon file photo Scott Whelpley

What started as a fairly typical Mukilteo City Council meeting turned testy Monday with a proposal to immediately slash the mayor’s salary and make the position part time.

Councilmember Scott Whelpley had been fairly quiet throughout the night, only answering “yay” or “nay” in regards to motions being filed, but just before the meeting was set to end, he attempted a last-minute motion the day before the election.

“We currently have a full-time city administrator … and we do have a full-time policy analyst,” Whelpley said. “So I’m thinking about the leveling of our resources, and I think it’s important I do this the night before the election because whoever is victorious here tomorrow … I want them to have a clear understanding of what the job entails.

“I want to remove the redundancy of this,” Whelpley said. “So, I’m going to make the motion that we reduce the mayoral salary to $30,000 a year and make it a part-time position.”

Council Vice President Steve Schmalz seconded the motion, noting they had talked about this issue before, and that he was comfortable voting for it that night.

“It certainly isn’t a new item that we have been discussing,” Schmalz said. “I think it’s been an opinion of the public since it was first enacted.”

Caught off guard, Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said the question deserved careful deliberation, rather than be made in haste.

“I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to serve as mayor over the last four years in a full-time capacity,” Gregerson said. “However, the mayor’s office is bigger than one person, and it’s important that we always have a strong leader who can guide the city.”

Gregerson said that rushing a decision on the issue could be potentially harmful.

“I am concerned that the lack of process will send the wrong message to city staff,” Gregerson said. “This should be a deliberative process. I am open to having this conversation, but that should be done using the existing salary committee process, taking time to consider the duties and tasks of the role of the mayor.”

Whelpley said that part of the reason he felt comfortable acting quickly, besides saving the city money, was that he felt the city’s staff is doing a good job.

“This is the way I see it,” Whelpley said. “Currently, both the policy analyst and the management service director are doing a great job. The city is running very well, and we have an excellent staff. My concern is the redistribution of those dollars.”

Whelpley voiced repeatedly that the city and the council are supposed to be “good stewards of taxpayer dollars” and that he wanted to make it clear that whoever won the mayoral election would know what the mayor’s salary and job would entail.

Councilmembers Randy Lord, Richard Emery and Christine Cook were not comfortable with voting on the issue Monday night.

“I’m intrigued, and a bit concerned,” Lord said. “I don’t like making significant changes to policy this quickly. I don’t feel comfortable having to make a decision when it’s not even an agenda item.”

Lord said he was open to discussing the idea at a later time, including during future talks on the 2018 budget, but he didn’t want to vote on something that was quickly added and was not on the night’s agenda. Councilmember Emery shared that sentiment.

“Even though this has been mentioned before, this is something that I would like to see deliberated in perhaps a different way, a more timely way, a more thorough way than here tonight,” Emery said. “I’m not prepared to move on this motion.”

Councilmember Wheeler was also open to the idea of discussing the issue at a later date, as long as it was before the end of 2017.

“I think this would be a great discussion to have, perhaps not tonight, but I think we should address it,” Wheeler said. “This should be something that should be put on the agenda and look at it...I think there’s also other positions that could be eliminated that could save us some money for the city budget, so I would support it.

“I think it should be done by the end of the year if it can fit into the agenda between now and the end of the year.”

Councilmember Lord then filed to table the discussion until the Monday, Nov. 13, special council meeting, which passed 4-2, with Lord, Cook, Emery and Schmalz voting for tabling the discussion while Wheeler and Whelpley voted against it.

Other council action

In addition to discussion regarding Mayor Gregerson’s salary, the council was given an update on third quarter finances for 2017.

They also passed Mitigation Agreement #2 for the ferry terminal project, Mukilteo Multimodal Mitigation Agreement Amendment #1, and Resolution 2017-2019 to sign an interlocal agreement with Snohomish County 911 for police and fire dispatch services.

Regarding third quarter finances, Michelle Meyer, the city’s finance director, showed that they are near projections for 2017.

Mitigation Agreement #2 covers security fencing, signage, lighting and crossing for the ferry terminal project while the mitigation agreement had to do with stormwater. There will be 30 large Baker tanks, which the water would go into, then sit for a few days and get tested to see if it’s clean enough to be discharged back into the Puget Sound.

To do this, there will be a generator running 24/7, but it will be wrapped to reduce noise.

The new interlocal agreement between the city and Snohomish County 911 passed unanimously with Schmalz saying it was almost too good to be true.

SNOCOM and SNOPAC will be consolidating into one emergency communications agency called Snohomish County 911, which will begin at the start of 2018.

According to Mukilteo Fire Chief Chris Alexander, this will eliminate unnecessary call transfers that currently take place, as the two agencies are separate entities.

As it stands, Mukilteo would have parts of two board seats at the new agency.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Joe Kunzler | Nov 08, 2017 11:14

Hey Councilmember Scott Whelpley, go buzz off.



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