Buckley updates city code, seeking updates to elected official’s salaries

Buckley may soon revise its nearly two-decade old salaries for elected officials after changing city code to try to revive its salary commission at the most recent council meeting.

The city’s independent Salary Commission was established in 2004 with the responsibility of reviewing and adjusting the pay of the city’s elected officials: The seven city council members and mayor.

But the commission, an independent body, hasn’t been active in the 18 years since, according to the city, and growth in the community as well as an increased cost of living has left those salaries outdated and and in need of review, city officials said. Currently, the mayor makes $500 per month and each council member makes $400 per month, according to City Administrator Dave Schmidt.

“I’ve argued this for a long time, that we needed to raise the salary,” Councilmember Marvin Sundstrom said. “Especially for the young people. I … donate it back to the city, because I don’t need it, but … some of these people have families to raise, (and) other responsibilities. … You can’t expect people to put a lot of time in when they’re basically donating it.”

City staff had tried at least five times, overall, to recruit volunteers for the commission prior to the meeting Tuesday.

“(City clerk) Treva (Percival) has advertised three different times looking for volunteers,” Schmidt said during the meeting. “We went so far as to develop a list of individuals we thought would potentially volunteer to sit, and we solicited them directly. We got one.”

Their efforts have appeared to already paid off. The council’s efforts to amend the salary commission code garnered enough public attention that, ironically, the city now has enough prospective volunteers to convene the commission, Schmidt said in an email Thursday.

The council’s unanimously vote on Tuesday repealed and replace its existing municipal code on the salary commission Tuesday. They changed the commission’s members from from five to three and added a provision allowing the city council to review salaries themselves if can’t find volunteers to sit the commission.

If the commission voted to modify the salaries, those raises would take effect immediately. Ideally, that’s how salaries would be changed. But if it came to the council to change salaries, changes to the salaries wouldn’t take effect until the next term. Changes to the mayor’s salary could take effect immediately, unless the mayor had to vote to make the change in the event of a tied council.

Either way, local residents could file a referendum petition on those changes if they wished, and force the matter to a vote of the people.

Also on Tuesday, the council…

• Unanimously approved a request by the Foothills Historical Society to remodel the lower storage area in Buckley Hall, adding a new storage platform and improving stairs. The project will be paid for by the historical society in full.

• Unanimously voted to award a bid to replace a leaking metal roof on the Haunted House building to Lake Tapps Construction Unlimited. The project will run about $100,000, plus tax.

• Approved the design for a new boat storage facility on SR 410. The project will create three one-story boat storage buildings and two rapid-charge electric vehicle stations. Coucilmembers Ron Smith and Marvin Sundstrom voted against approving the design.

• Unanimously approved an agreement between Buckley and Pierce County to connect the city’s mobile and portable radio equipment to the county’s public safety communication system.