Salary Commission approves $9,132 pay increase for Kent mayor

Annual pay to climb this year to $212,088

Put down a $9,132 pay increase this year for Kent Mayor Dana Ralph.

The city’s three-member Independent Salary Commission approved the hike March 14. The group had proposed the pay jump at its Feb. 22 meeting and made it official after a public hearing required by city code. Only one resident signed up to comment. He opposed the hike.

At $212,088 per year, Ralph will become the highest paid mayor among the six comparable cities used by the commission to set salaries each year. The other cities are Everett, Renton, Auburn, Marysville, Federal Way and Redmond.

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.

“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, when it proposed the increase in February. “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.

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 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. Three residents applied to be on the commission and were approved by the council. The commission in 2023 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.

The Salary Commission decided against proposing any pay increases in 2024 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 the most recent Salary Commission documents.

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.

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