Opinion

One mayor gets a raise while another gets an earful

Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall and Arlington Mayor Margaret Larson were both on the receiving end recently; Mayor Kendall got a pay raise and Mayor Larson got an earful from local residents concerned about public safety.
In a 3-1 vote, March 26, the Marysville Salary Commission voted to give Mayor Kendall a 15 percent pay increase raising his monthly salary by $968.55, from $6,457 to $7,419, for an annual total of $89,000.
At first I was a bit taken aback by the size of the increase, 15 percent, but after some consideration I believe it was warranted.
Three cities with comparable populations to Marysvilles 32,505 Bremerton with 38,600, Edmonds with 39,680 and Mt. Vernon with 28,710 all pay their mayors more. Bremertons mayor takes home a monthly salary of $8,517, Edmonds mayor earns $8,451 and Mt. Vernons mayor earns $7,224, all significantly above Marysvilles current rate of $6,457.
And, when compared to the salary of some Marysville city employees, the mayors salary is far from the top of the pay scale. For example, the citys chief administrative officer has an annual salary of $137,000, while the police chief takes home $127,000 per year. Throw in a couple dozen more employees who, with salary and overtime, take home more than the mayor and the increase doesnt seem so unreasonable.
The city, its government and its residents are facing a number of challenges and important decisions. Given the recent rapid growth and the important issues we face, we must have experienced and qualified public leaders, and paying a reasonable salary is one way to ensure we attract, and keep, the kind of leaders we need to help guide us through the myriad challenges we are facing.
While, I must admit, Im a bit envious at the size of the pay raise, I believe that it is warranted to keep the salary of Marysvilles mayor in line with other cities of comparable size, facing similar challenges.
Money was also under discussion at a recent meeting in Arlington, but the talk wasnt about putting more of it into Mayor Larsons pocket it was about the economic impacts of crime and the budgetary restraints of the city and the Arlington Police Department.
City leaders, Arlington police and Snohomish County Prosecutor Janice Ellis meet with community members March 19 to talk about crime and what the city, and its police, can do about it.
Many of the community members who spoke out at the meeting praised the Arlington Police Department and its officers for their professionalism and doing the best they could with what they have.
At the same time, many questioned why Arlington couldnt hire more officers to enhance public safety. The bottom line is money, according to officials who pointed out that the revenues generated by the citys growth are limited in the services they can support.
While no decisions were made at the meeting, I believe it provided the community a great opportunity to express their concerns to those responsible for addressing them. All the officials who attended knowing that they would be facing tough questions should be commended. And the community members who turned out to let their voices be heard deserve our thanks for taking the time to address an issue that impacts all of us. Holding the community meeting was a wonderful idea and I hope that there are more of them to address this issue and many others.

Scott Frank
Managing Editor

To contact a member of The Marysville Globe/Arlington Times editorial board Kris Passey, Scott Frank or Margi Hartnett e-mail forum@premier1.net.

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