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Aug. 7, 2022

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Organizers say salary petition drive off to great start

Effort to retract pay hikes for Vancouver mayor, city council continues

By , Columbian City Government Reporter
Published:

Organizers of a petition effort to retract the big pay hikes recently awarded to Vancouver’s mayor and city council said last weekend’s signature gathering at the Vancouver Farmers Market went better than expected.

“If the rest of the community reacts the way they did in Esther Short Park, we think we’re off to a great start,” said Royce Pollard, one of two former Vancouver mayors involved.

Pollard declined to specify how many signatures were collected Saturday and Sunday because “we don’t want people to have the attitude, ‘They’re doing OK, they don’t need us,’ ” he said Monday. “We need a significant number more.”

The petition will be available again at this weekend’s Vancouver Farmers Market, he said. In addition, dozens of copies are floating around the community.

If organizers get about 2,776 valid signatures by May 20 and the county auditor determines the petition is in order, the council will consider approving the referendum, which then would appear on November’s ballot. To be valid, the signatures must be from city residents who are registered to vote, and they may sign the petition only once.

However, Pollard is shooting for 4,000 signatures. That’s because petitions for residents’ ballot measures “always get 30 to 40 percent error,” he said. “You need a buffer — a big one. We only get one shot.”

Hoping it’s not needed

Ideally, the referendum never would go to the voters, he said. Pollard is hoping the city council sees the successful petition drive and opts to repeal the ordinance adopted by the city Salary Review Commission that set the salary schedule for 2017-18, he said.

“I’d hope they would kill it based on the overwhelming response of the community, if it’s there,” he said, noting that running a campaign for a ballot measure can be expensive and time consuming.

Two city councilors already have signed the petition — Anne McEnerny-Ogle and Alishia Topper — Pollard said.

The petition asks the city council to either repeal the ordinance or submit it to the voters for a yes-or-no vote.

“We’re saying, you and I have the right to vote up or down,” Pollard said.

On April 20, the salary commission increased the mayor’s pay for 2017-18 by 117 percent, from $27,600 to $60,000 a year. City councilors’ pay is rising by 50 percent, from $21,600 to $32,496 a year. The mayor pro tem, a councilor who fills in when the mayor is unavailable, will see a pay boost from $24,000 to $37,500 a year, a 56 percent increase. Under the city charter, the five appointed members of the Salary Review Commission have the exclusive authority to set the pay.

Columbian City Government Reporter

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