Citizen panel sets hearing on salaries for Leavitt, council

Vancouver committee examines their pay every two years

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 

If you go

What: The Vancouver Salary Review Commission, a citizen group that sets the salary for the mayor and city council, will hold its first meeting.

When: 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Aspen Conference Room, first floor, City Hall, 415 W. Sixth St.

Will the start of 2013 mean a raise for the Vancouver City Council?

It’s not up to the city’s elected officials, but rather a citizen Salary Review Commission, which is set to hold its first meeting and public hearing Thursday.

The five-person committee examines the mayor and city council salaries every two years to coincide with Vancouver’s biannual budget schedule.

City council members have the opportunity to supply testimony to the council and state their case for any salary increases they believe are necessary, or lobby to keep their salaries static, as they did in 2010. The Salary Review Commission, under state law, cannot lower the mayor or city council’s pay.

Mayor Tim Leavitt earns $2,200 a month; Mayor Pro Tempore Larry Smith gets $2,000; and the rest of the council is paid $1,781 for their part-time public service positions.

Each also may choose to collect an average of $820 a month worth of health and life insurance and retirement benefits. In early 2011, the council voted to pay for the same percentage of health benefits that management and nonunion workers pay, or nothing for a single member to about $155 per month for family coverage.

City councilors not on the health benefit plan no longer receive a $230-a-month opt-out payment. The Salary Review Commission does not have a say over benefits.

Voter approval

City voters approved the salary commission in 1994. While the group schedules as many meetings as it needs, the commission has to submit its recommendations to the city clerk by May 1.

The committee is appointed by the mayor and subject to approval by the city council, and evaluates pay based on population, comparable salaries, testimony and other factors.

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542 or andrea.damewood@columbian.com or www.facebook.com/reporterdamewood or www.twitter.com/col_cityhall.