At tonight’s council meeting: Mayor & councilmembers to revisit their salaries

cof city council meeting 2016-06-05
Ferndale City Council meeting (June 5, 2017). Photo: Discover Ferndale

City Administrator Greg Young recently announced at the Finance and Administration City Council meeting that the City has been put on notice the way salaries of the councilmembers and the mayor are calculated violates the Washington State Constitution.

Currently, the mayor’s and councilmember’s salaries are increased annually based on changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). But computing salaries this way violates Washington State law, according to Young.

Young told the committee that councilmember and the mayor salaries in 2005 were assigned as fixed amounts. Then, in 2008, the mayor’s salary was set to be adjusted based on the CPI and by 2013 councilmembers’ salaries were also set to be adjusted based on the CPI.

In materials provided at last week’s Finance and Administration Council Committee meeting, Young said, “Unfortunately, we have learned that this automatic pay adjustment runs afoul of state law. We have been told that any increase in Council salary must be for a defined dollar amount – leaving it up to CPI (inflation) will not work.”

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The State Auditor’s Office issued a bulletin in 1999 that included, “we have consistently concluded over the years that this sort of salary increase is indeed a violation of the State Constitution. We have stated and continue to advise, that unless the increase can be foreseen at the beginning of the term, salary increases connected to an index violate the constitutional restriction.”

Mayor Mutchler proposed increasing councilmember monthly salaries 50% from $600 monthly ($7200/yr) to $900 monthly ($10,800/yr) in May, which would have been the first significant increase since 2005, but the proposal stalled in council committee for lack of a motion to continue the discussion at a full city council meeting.

Other items on the tonight’s Ferndale City Council meeting agenda include:

  • Consider an ordinance to take the payment amount that had been put toward the recently paid-off loan on the wastewater treatment plant and put it toward the anticipated new loan required to upgrade and expand the plant.
  • Discuss and solicit feedback regarding the city’s recreation program.

The Ferndale City Council meeting will begin at 6pm in council chambers at 5694 2nd Avenue.

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