Council pay raise approved

Beginning Aug. 1 the Bremerton City Council will see an increase in their paychecks from $750 a month to $1,000 or $12,000 a year. The City Council president would receive an additional $150 a month or $1,800 a year.

Despite some opposition, the three-member citizen’s commission appointed to re-evaluate Council salaries voted in favor June 30 of a 33 percent pay increase.

The increase was proposed by Jim Reed, the commission’s chairman after his initial proposal for a 67 percent raise failed. Reed and Dena Swisher voted in favor of the 33 percent increase while Doug Wakefield voted against it.

Wakefield’s proposal for a 2.5 percent cost of living salary increase failed at a June 29 public hearing. A handful of people spoke at that hearing in favor of the more modest increase.

Del Knauss asked Reed to withdraw his proposal and reminded Reed of the 252 signatures he turned in supporting the 2.5 percent increase.

“Let’s slow it down and take it year by year,” Knauss said.

Wakefield said the commission needed to consider the message a 33 percent raise would send to voters, especially with a law and justice levy heading to the ballot. Supporters of the increase said it would attract young professionals to the Council and allow them more flexibility.

“You have to take into consideration they will have to take time off work,” Swisher said.

Reed, a former city councilman, said the pay raise would attract more potential candidates.

“Why should someone that has three children and a full-time job not be able to run for Council because they can’t afford it,” Reed said.

The last salary increase came in 2003 when the number went from $7,200 to $9,000.

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