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Three Kitsap mayors among state’s highest paid

May 24th, 2011 by Chris Henry

According to an article in the May 23 South Whidbey Record, the Langley City Council is wrestling with how much it should set as the mayor’s salary in the upcoming election.

Port Orchard has been there, done that. In a recent discussion, the city council quickly and without much controversy concluded that running the city of Port Orchard was a full-time job. The salary, as advertised in the 2011 Kitsap County candidate guidelines document, is $60,150.40 (exclusive of benefits). Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola makes $62,150 (exclusive of benefits). Coppola in 2009 convinced the council that the position was deserving of greater compensation that the roughly $20,000 it commanded when he took office in 2008.

But back to Langely. The council originally took up the issue when “controversy over vacation pay for Mayor Paul Samuelson created intense scrutiny of the size of his compensation package. Shoddy work on the ordinances that set the mayor’s salary prompted the council to rescind and rewrite the laws that gave Samuelson annual earnings that topped $53,000.”

As it turns out, they crafted an ordinance that needs some revision.

The Langley council next week will discuss “a revised ordinance that strips away a requirement that links the council’s approval of the mayor’s ‘plan of administration’ to any possible pay raise.”

If that sounds vaguely familiar, it may be because the Port Orchard City Council had hoped to tie Coppola’s salary to annual performance reviews, which the mayor was all on board with. They later found they could raise the salary during his term of office, but the only time they could lower it was at an election.

And remember, the Port Orchard council just decided that, regardless of who gets the job, it’s a full-time position.

On Monday, the Langley council was to take a big-picture look at its mayor and his compensation. The article, which was excellent on many levels, drew on data to from Washington Association of Cities to show that Samuelson’s salary ($53,532) is among the top 25 in the state. That’s significant, considering the population of the town he governs is only 1,115 (compared for example to Port Orchard, which is about 10 times that many).

In fact, Samuelson, at 24th in the state, is ranked right behind Coppola, who is the 23rd best paid mayor in the Washington. Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson, paid $65,400 (pop. 8,920) ranks 21. Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent, paid $117,672, (pop. 36,190) is in 6th place.

(Bainbridge Island does not have a mayor. It’s city manager is paid $94,788 in salary and benefits in 2011 to run a city that serves about 23,000 people.)

No surprise, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is the highest paid mayor in the state with $169,956.

Washington State has 281 cities and towns.

Significantly, the ranking does not correlate to population (as you can see from a quick Poulsbo-Port Orchard comparison). Certainly looking at Samuelson’s pay-to-population ratio, one would have to conclude a big-picture analysis is in order.

As the South Whidbey Record’s Brian Kelly reported, “A Record review of mayoral pay, based on the 2010 salary survey conducted by the Association of Washington Cities, shows that in the 92 cities and towns with populations between 715 and 5,000, only 17 mayors in those towns make more than $10,000. Six receive no pay at all for serving as mayor.”

“On a per-capita basis, with the cost of the mayor’s salary divided by the number of residents, Samuelson’s pay is at the very top of the 129 cities examined by the Record. …The cost of the mayor’s pay to each Langley resident is $48.01, according to an analysis conducted by the newspaper.”

“The next highest is Coupeville, with a per-capita rate of $33.73, followed by Yarrow Point, at $30.15.”

Most cities have a per capita rate of $3 to $5, the Record showed in the article, which included a list of the top 25, plus population, annual budget and number of employees. Rock on South Whidbey Record!

Ranked on a per capita, bang-for-buck basis, Kitsap’s mayors come in as follows: Bremerton $3.25 per resident to pay its mayor for a year; Port Orchard comes in at $5.69 and Poulsbo is on the high end at $7.33 per resident.

6 BREMERTON MAYOR PATTY LENT
Pay: $117,672
Population: 36,190
Budget: $146 million
Employees: 367
Mayor annual per capita cost: $3.25

23 MAYOR LARY COPPOLA
PORT ORCHARD
Pay: $62,148
Population: 10,910
Budget: $11.9 million
Employees: 70
Mayor annual per capita cost: $5.69

21 MAYOR BECKY ERICKSON
POULSBO
Pay: $65,400
Population: 8,920
Budget: $14 million
Employees: 93
Mayor annual per capita cost: $7.33

and by comparison …

24 MAYOR PAUL SAMUELSON
LANGLEY
Pay: $53,532
Population: 1,115
Budget: $4.3 million
Employees: 19
Mayor, annual per capita cost: $48.01

22 MAYOR NANCY CONARD
COUPEVILLE
Pay: $63,756
Population: 1,890
Budget: $5.3 million
Employees: 15
Mayor annual per capital cost: $33.73

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7 Responses to “Three Kitsap mayors among state’s highest paid”

  1. fletc3her Says:

    Let’s triple Lary’s salary again. I’m sure he can squeak out 180 hours per week.

  2. Sharon O'Hara Says:

    24 MAYOR PAUL SAMUELSON
    LANGLEY
    Pay: $53,532
    Population: 1,115
    Budget: $4.3 million
    Employees: 19
    Mayor, annual per capita cost: $48.01

    Seems to me the salary issue would depend on what the mayor does for the money.
    How do the citizens benefit?
    Are the taxpayers healthier, wealthier, more content with their choice of living there through the mayors efforts?

    Neat piece Chris – thanks! Sharon O”Hara

  3. Ducttapeo1 Says:

    DUI Larry is a high paid, heavy drinking Mayor. With the exception of McGinn, he can probably drink every other official under the table. And next to Randy Dorn, our Public Schools official, he’s got one of the HIGHER DUI’s for an elected official.

    And I’d make one more point of compensation for the Barfly of Port Orchard. He’s got, because the public pays for his health benefits, a $50,000. get-out-of-jail drug treatment program, as per his pretrial agreement. He’s right up there with Patty Lent.

    And please, no bull about DUI Larry being libeled. He’s a drunk of public record.

  4. paradyne64 Says:

    Three comments:
    1. If the Mayor is paid this much it is also logical to assume the rest of the City Department Heads are also paid accordingly.
    2. I would like to see what the average income of a person living in one of these cities is; this should play in or at least be known. I know the average income of a person living in Seattle is higher than someone who lives in Bremerton. But what are the actual figures?
    3. Ole Lary is not going to like this article as he always claims he never raised his salary, the city council did.

  5. Chris Henry Says:

    @paradyne64 – The department heads make more than the mayor. I don’t have the exact figures on hand. But I think it’s fair to say they work their butts off. Check out the comparison of staff size to population of PO versus other local cities and cities around the state.

    As for city council members, if you check out this posting, you’ll see they command just under $10,000 a year for their services.

    http://pugetsoundblogs.com/kitsap-caucus/2011/05/26/candidates-workshop-at-port-orchard-city-hall-today-526/

    Chris Henry, reporter

  6. Chris Henry Says:

    @Ducttape01 –

    True, the mayor’s DUI in May, 2010 is a matter of public record, and an as we at the Kitsap Sun have concluded in this and other matters, public officials should be held to a higher standard than ordinary citizens.

    But in fairness to the mayor, your comment makes him sound like a chronic drunk. He has not had another DUI, and has not been publicly drunk (at least to my knowledge) since his conviction.

    Chris Henry, reporter

  7. Jane_Rebelowski Says:

    The most recent census data indicates that median household income in Bremerton is half that of median household income of Kitsap County as a whole. We also have double the rate of residents living below the poverty line. Not only is our mayor compensated over three times the median household (not just individual) income of our residents but department heads (none that I am aware live within our taxing district) are paid even more!

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