To the editor:
After reading the Sept. 28 Bainbridge Review article “Council scraps contract with deputy mayor – Bainbridge will search for a new city manager,” I was not only shocked and appalled at the annual salary of $178,252 for the former city manager (Doug Schulze) but absolutely floored by it.
With a city of only 25,000 people, it’s not only exorbitant, it’s outrageous.
For comparison, the governor makes $177,107. The population of Washington state is roughly 7.5 million. Then I decided to research the salaries paid to all City of Bainbridge Island (COBI) elected officials and salaried employees. Wow. Just a hint of what I found, is that our tax revenue in 2017 was $35,972,822 and expenses were $33,462,753.
A large chunk of that mind-boggling dollar amount, $14,519,836, are what we pay in salaries and benefits to our COBI employees and elected officials.
What is leftover, is a measly $2,510,069 for us taxpayers. No wonder we are constantly asked for more, more, more, in the form of school levies, fire department funding and this insulting, poorly executed Proposition 1, the SAFE Mobility Levy. (I urge everyone to VOTE NO until an actual plan is in place.)
Here’s a few more expenses that even a seasoned tax accountant would find disturbing: Professional Services paid out were $2,093,343. I guess those studies to find out if an island owned and operated power utility was feasible ($100,000-plus), or if the South Carolina firm that was paid around $85,000 could come up with a COBI logo (why weren’t local artists utilized?!) or the ongoing, never-ending searches for suitable employees, that cost a bundle, aren’t panning out so well.
Let’s just stop these ridiculous studies done by hired outsiders to tell us how to make our island better. Let’s ask our own people what’s important, necessary and needed first.
Here’s another baffling cost: $915,647 for supplies. This does not include budgets for city vehicles, construction costs or road maintenance. Boy, paper clips, tape and staplers must have really skyrocketed in price since I was a business owner. (FYI, I sold my business 2016.)
The bloated salaries of our COBI employees are not in line, at all, with, for instance, the city of Bellevue, which has a population of 142,000. On average, city of Bellevue employees earn 10 to 20 percent less than their COBI counterparts.
Recently, Bainbridge council members voted against putting important decisions regarding our welfare on public ballots, for us to decide whether or not something is, or isn’t, wanted in our community before implementation by the COBI (like a South Carolina design firm creating our logo) by a 5-to-4 margin.
Beware you five who voted against allowing us to have our say; you’ll be voted out when your terms are up. I’m not sure if anyone else feels as I do, but I’d be surprised if they don’t.
We keep hearing about how we want low income housing options, better transportation (not just bike paths), better road maintenance, nicer parks, fully funded schools, etc.
What we’re not hearing is when these things will happen, or how it will be paid for. It’s not only disturbing, it’s disheartening.
It’s time for the COBI to tighten its belt, spend wisely and at least act accountable to those who pay your salaries.
For more information regarding COBI employee and council member salaries, go to www.governmentjobs.com/bainbridgewa. For more information regarding our COBI spending to go https://bainbridgeislandwa.opengov.com/transparencytransparency.
It’s way past time to fight city hall.