Arlington council members say salary information was available

ARLINGTON – Three City Council members have called out colleague Marilyn Oertle for comments she made to The Arlington Times regarding proposed salary information not being made available.

ARLINGTON – Three City Council members have called out colleague Marilyn Oertle for comments she made to The Arlington Times regarding proposed salary information not being made available.

Council Members Jan Schuette, Jesica Stickles and Mayor Pro Tem Chris Raezer said the information was available, if she only made the effort to get it.

“Paul Ellis and other city staff offered to meet with us; go over any figures and really dive into the details as much or as little as we saw fit,” the letter says. “Several of us took advantage of that offer … you chose not to do that.”

Oertle declined comment for this story.

In an interview, Schuette said council members copied email questions and answers to each other regarding the budget so everyone would be in the know.

At a council meeting in December, members Oertle and Debora Nelson asked for salary information that wasn’t given to them. The Arlington Times likewise requested information from the city, and it was not obtained until this week.

Schuette said she’s not sure why city staff didn’t give the information to The Times because it was available.

The Times wanted to know exactly how much each city official was getting for a raise. That information still has not been obtained. But in Schuette’s letter it does explain how much city administrators are paid in other cities of similar size, something else The Times had requested.

New City Administrator Paul Ellis will make $154,000 a year. In cities almost the exact same size, Tumwater pays $163,908 and Covington $162,192. Nearby Snohomish pays $153,156 for a city half Arlington’s size.

The letter goes on to say that the only employees who received raises in the 2015 budget did so because of promotions, change of job titles and job responsibilities. The city made a number of promotions from within, starting with Ellis moving up from economic development and airport director.

“I’m glad we didn’t have to spend thirty grand to go out look for somebody,” Schuette said.

She added Ellis was the only candidate, but he has four degrees in city administration and has done a great job with manufacturing and industry in Arlington.

He moved up when Allen Johnson retired. He was replaced in his old job when Chris Young was promoted. Three others were promoted in-house for the ripple effect.

Other city workers have not received raises yet as government is negotiating with three unions. While some received step increases, most have not received a raise in six years, and many took a pay cut to help the city through the recession, the letter states.

The City Council was presented with the new administration structure in August. Since then they have spent hours on the budget, which was presented to the council in September.

“We got pages and pages of documents,” Schuette said. “It was almost too much information.”



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