Monroe gets new city clerk, ponders pay raise for council
By Chris Hendrickson, Monitor
NEW CITY CLERK
The Monroe City Council Tuesday welcomed to the city Elizabeth Smoot, the new city clerk.
Smoot has five years of experience as the deputy city clerk in Redmond, as well as five years of experience working in law firms. She attended the University of Washington, earning a bachelor’s degree and a paralegal certificate. She has also obtained her Certified Municipal Clerk certification.
“I’m excited to start here and hopefully I can be a great addition to the city,” said Smoot.
Council approved the 2013 budget which included the city clerk position in November, 2012.
Smoot was selected from over 15 applicants, out of which five were interviewed for the position. She started with the city on Tuesday, Sept. 10.
Smoot addressed council, inviting them to contact her with any questions or concerns, and to apprise her of their expectations.
“Let me know what you expect of a city clerk and we can move forward together and hopefully make the city even greater than it is already,” said Smoot.
The motion appointing Smoot as the new city clerk passed unanimously.
COUNCIL CONSIDERS COMPENSATION STRUCTURE UPDATE
Council has begun preliminary discussion on converting the current council compensation plan from a paid-per-meeting plan to a salary-based plan. Monroe city councilmembers are currently paid based on their attendance at the council meetings, of which there are usually three per month. If a council member is absent, he or she is not paid for that meeting.
Council was in agreement that being absent does not preclude them from having to listen to the meeting’s audio recording, research and follow up on the pertinent agenda items and learn the outcome of discussions they may have missed.
Also, being paid on a per-meeting basis does not allow for the time put in by councilmembers outside of city hall.
“You aren’t just working when you’re at the meetings,” said Councilmember Tom Williams. “There’s other work during the week that you do whether you’re at the meeting or not.”
The last update to council compensation occurred in 1999, when the rate went from $50 to $100 per meeting. No increases have been sought or discussed since then.
At last week’s discussion, the suggested salary amount was $600 per month.
Several councilmembers who sit on the City Council Finance/Human Resources Committee have researched the matter of council compensation and conducted a study on what city council members in other cities are paid. There appears to be no set formula for compensation, and it does not appear to be determined by population factors.
“It’s all over the board,” said Councilman Jason Gamble, the committee chair.
The research, however, did clearly show that the majority of other cities in Washington are on a salary-type structure.
Williams participated in the compensation study and stated that one of the goals for increasing compensation is to help draw qualified candidates to run for positions on the council. He feels that a better incentive program would attract citizens to what can be a difficult job.
“It’s a lot of work; it’s a lot of pressure; it’s a lot of time away from your family; and it’s for very, very little compensation,” said Williams.
Council members are disallowed from voting on their own pay raise, so the increase in pay would only apply to those council positions that are up for election this year. Seats secured by newly-elected council members or by council members who are reelected to their seats in November would be the only ones eligible for the increase if it were to pass.
Council seats up for reelection this term include Position 2, for which Patsy Cudaback is running unopposed; Position 1, for which incumbent Kevin Hanford is running against Brad Waddell; Position 3, for which Mike Stanger is running against Jeff Rasmussen; and the at-large seat, which is being sought by Kurt Goering.
This year will mark Goering’s sixth year on city council, which prevents him from seeking reelection to a four-year seat because of Monroe’s term limit restriction of eight consecutive years. However, he is able to seek the at-large seat, which is a two-year term. All other council seats are four-year terms.
Council positions that are not up for reelection this year would remain within the current per-meeting pay structure. This would apply to Jason Gamble in Position 6 and Jim Kamp in Position 4. In the case of mayoral candidate Ed Davis, who currently holds council Position 5, if not elected mayor, Davis would retain his seat on the council at the old pay rate, not becoming eligible for the increase unless he were to win reelection in 2015.
The committee chose the $600 monthly amount based on analysis of salaries offered in cities with similar populations to Monroe and settling on an amount in about the middle of the range.
There will be public hearing to allow citizens to provide feedback on the topic of council compensation no earlier than Oct. 8, 2013.
MONROE’S MUSICFEST DEEMED A HUGE SUCCESS
Monroe’s MusicFest, held at Lake Tye Park on Sat. Sept. 7, was hailed as a great success by Monroe Mayor Robert Zimmerman, Parks Director Mike Farrell, Economic Development Coordinator Jeff Sax and City Administrator Gene Brazel, along with other members of staff.
“It was epic. I can’t thank council enough for believing in staff,” said Brazel. “And staff stepped up and did an incredible job.”
MusicFest featured both local and national caliber musicians including Monroe resident Keith Brock who brought his band of all-stars, along with special guest John Popper of Blues Traveler, who also resides in Monroe.
The opening bands included $5 Fine and the Randy Oxford Band.
It was the first time Mayor Zimmerman and other members of city staff had the opportunity to see the editor of the Monroe Monitor, bass player and vocalist Polly Keary, perform. Keary is the bass guitarist for the Randy Oxford Band.
“I tell you what, she rocked that bass, and more than that, her voice is incredible,” said Zimmerman.*
Attendance was estimated at approximately 700 people.
“That was the last major event of my term as mayor here in the city of Monroe,” said Zimmerman. “I’m very proud of everyone for their effort and support.”
*Editor’s Note: No pay raises were granted to the author for inclusion of the mayor’s quote, although it was tempting.