Monday, December 08, 2008

To Pay or Not to Pay?

Recently, an article made its way into the media and blogosphere regarding Port Orchard City Council's consideration of a raise for its mayor. This would increase Lary Coppola's annual salary from approximately $19k for a part-time position, to a full time one commanding $62k plus benefits. The Council would only approve this for the first six months of 2009, extending payment once additional revenue from annexations occurred. The city's hotel-motel tax revenue would be used to fund a portion.

Coppola's rationale for the increase is 50-60 hours a week he spends on mayoral duties versus the 15 allocated for the position. He submitted
a statement including the pros and cons of his request, responding to each in some detail. Other information for consideration includes the salaries of other Kitsap mayors - Bremerton, Bainbridge Island, and Poulsbo. The latter pays Kathryn Quade $62k for a municipality roughly the same size as that of Port Orchard.

While we await the Council's vote on the budget this December 9, the overarching discussion is how Port Orchard envisions its future. Leaders and citizens alike should be thinking about what kind of city they desire, as well as the leadership to achieve objectives. In order to fully address these and related issues, dialogue will need to rise well above its existing level. Decisions made now will impact Port Orchard for decades to come. Short-sightedness and petty in-fighting are not options. An upgraded leadership position of this nature could retain candidates who might otherwise depart given business concerns which suffer under the weight of full time mayoral demands. It would also attract a pool of better qualified candidates going forward.

If Port Orchard wants a form of government where its mayor is strong, proactive, and increasingly involved in initiatives, projects, and meetings on its behalf, the position should be full time and paid accordingly. If it doesn't, a viable alternative must be conceptualised and formed immediately. The current expectation that an elected leader spend 50-60 hours whilst being paid for 15 is neither reasonable nor practical. It doesn't matter if "it's been done like this before".

-Registered Voter

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