Kent Salary Commission proposes $9,132 pay hike for mayor this year

Annual pay to jump to $212,088; residents can offer input about increase at March 14 meeting

Kent Mayor Dana Ralph will receive a $9,132 pay hike this year to $212,088 annually under a proposal by the city’s Independent Salary Commission.

The three-member committee, appointed by the Kent City Council, proposed the pay increase at its Feb. 22 meeting in an effort to make Ralph the highest paid mayor among six comparable cities. She currently makes $16,193 per month or $202,956 per year.

“Public service is incredibly important to the success of Kent,” according to a statement from the Salary Commission composed of residents Todd Minor, Julie Miller and Patrick Hanis. “In reviewing comparable salaries for mayor and council members in other comparable jurisdictions, the salary for Kent’s mayor was still below the salary paid in other jurisdictions.

“Applying an additional 4.5% adjustment to the mayor’s salary effective Jan. 1, 2024, which equals the cost-of-living adjustment given to city employees, brings the mayor’s salary more in line with other comparable jurisdictions.”

The annual pay for mayors in comparable cities includes Everett, $209,568; Renton, $209,184; Auburn, $192,612; Marysville, $181,140; Federal Way, $180,000; and Redmond, $144,996, according to Feb. 22 Salary Commission documents.

The comparable cities were selected based on a population of at least 25,000; be located in King, Pierce or Snohomish counties; and operate under a mayor-council plan of government.

Kent has a population of 139,100; Everett, 114,200; Renton, 107,900; Federal Way, 102,000; Auburn, 88,820; Redmond, 77,490; and Marysville, 73,780, according to Salary Commission documents.

The Kent City Council voted 5-2 to form the Salary Commission in 2022 to look at increasing pay for the mayor and council members. The commission last year hiked the mayor’s salary to $198,000 from $168,141 per year, with a 2.5% cost-of-living increase on Jan. 1, 2024.

No pay hikes for council

The Salary Commission decided against proposing any pay increases for the seven-member Kent City Council. Last year, the commission jumped pay for the part-time council members to $3,000 per month from $1,431, an increase to $36,000 per year from $17,132.

That pay jump has kept Kent in 2024 atop the six comparable cities, with Everett City Council members the next highest paid at $2,699 per month followed by Renton at $1,750 per month, according to Salary Commission documents.

Input from residents

Under Kent city code, the Salary Commission is to meet at least once per year, no later than April 30 in any given year, to review existing salaries for the city council and mayor and evaluate whether to adjust those salaries.

However, before any change is made, the commission is required to provide city residents an opportunity to comment on the proposed salary schedule.

That chance will be at the next meeting of the Independent Salary Commission at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at the city’s Centennial North and Centennial South room, 400 W. Gowe St.

The commission will solicit and consider public comment on the proposed salary schedule, discuss whether any change to that proposed schedule is warranted, and will then adopt the final salary schedule.

Once the final salary schedule is adopted, the city clerk will publish the final schedule two times, each publication at least one week apart. The second publication will then be the official filing date, and the salary schedule will become effective 30 days after the filing date, unless a referendum is timely filed by residents.

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