Nov. 26, 2014 2:35 p.m. - Updated: 2:49 p.m.
Spokane voters will get a chance to weigh in on the mayor’s salary next year, but City Council members say a change to the city charter may complicate other potential ballot measures that will seek money for schools and an expanded transit system.
A proposed change to the city’s charter by Councilman Mike Fagan would let the city’s Salary Review Commission set the mayor’s wage. The commission, which determines City Council members pay, currently has five members who are nominated by the mayor and approved by the council.
Fagan’s proposal follows a suggestion by Mayor David Condon last month to give the salary commission power over his pay.
But Fagan said his ordinance is his response to the public forums he led looking in to the issue, which he organized after the city’s budget included a $7,000 raise for the mayor.
The pay increase, which the mayor argued was determined by city law, would have made him one of the best paid mayors in the Pacific Northwest. After public outrage and harsh criticism from the council, the mayor officially rejected the raise and waived “any legal or equitable right now or in the future” to the pay raise that “he is entitled for fiscal year 2015,” according to a document he signed early this month.
On Monday, the City Council stripped the rest of the pay raises for nonunion employees at City Hall, including those for the mayor’s cabinet.
Fagan said he wants the charter change to appear on February's ballot, where it would share the ballot with a $145 million bond measure by Spokane Public Schools.Cheney and Mead school districts also overlap with Spokane’s municipal borders, so voters in those districts would also consider Fagan’s question. Cheney is asking for a $44.8 million bond and Mead is asking for $69.5 million bond.
Council President Ben Stuckart called Fagan’s proposal “a fair idea, ” but said he didn’t support putting it on the ballot with the schools’ proposals.
“I’m not in favor of the timing of it. I’ll be lobbying my fellow council members to delay it till next fall,” he said, adding that the charter change would create “a dynamic that might confuse the school issue.”
The following April ballot could have a ballot measure from the Spokane Transit Authority, which would go to implementing its Moving Forward campaign. The ambitious 10-year, $72 million proposal will be mostly covered by federal funds, but about $12 million would be local tax dollars.
The plan requires voter approval of a 0.3 percent sales tax increase. The STA board will decide Dec. 18 whether to put the issue on the ballot.
Councilman Mike Allen, a liaison for the council on the STA board, said putting Fagan’s proposal on the April ballot might get in the way of STA’s potential proposal. Regardless, it had his backing.
“I support what Mike’s trying to do because it de-politicizes the mayor’s salary, which is exactly what they do with the council’s salary,” he said.0 comments ›