Salary Commission responds about raises

  • Saturday, May 8, 2021 1:30am
  • Opinion

From the Salary Commission’s initial meeting until our final one, every effort was made to follow city of Bainbridge Island and Open Public Meetings Act guidelines on how to conduct our meetings and deliberations. We have been open, transparent and followed the ever-helpful administrative guidance given by Human Resources manager Kate Brown.

Our final work product was available online April 20. The City Council was informed April 21 via email of the salary changes.

(The BI mayor would get a raise from $1,250 to $4,000 a month; city councilmembers would each get a raise from $1,000 to $3,000 a month.)

As of April 28, all outstanding meeting minutes have been forwarded to Brown.

At a recent meeting, Councilmember Kirsten Hytopoulos implied the Salary Commission’s decision was done in secret. It was not. All meetings were properly noticed, open meetings, and anyone could have attended.

As a group, we had deep, productive discussions about the long-term value of our proposals, given that our decision would be in effect for seven years. Like you, we want the Bainbridge Island of 2028 to be a welcoming, vibrant, ecologically sound community with a robust economy based on tourism, agriculture, fine dining at all price points and professional services.

To get there, we need to make sure that we have an active, knowledgeable and engaged City Council that is able to focus on coming up with new solutions to the long-standing challenges that our island is facing. The structural realignment of the economy and the local workforce post-COVID provide new challenges as well as a window of opportunity for a creative reimagining of our community’s collective future.

Collectively, we take issue with Hytopoulos’ characterization of our salary-increase determination as “huge.” City councilmembers perform a valuable public service, but it is nonetheless a public service. At the time of our determination, public job postings on for BI city job openings showed that our proposal was situated between part-time landscape professionals and Grade 2 full-time administrative assistants.

We remain of the opinion that our determination is fair and appropriate. We also determined that keeping salaries low could perpetuate the bar to service those who are less economically advantaged encounter when considering whether to run for this office.

We also would like to briefly respond to Hytopoulos’ concern that the public would not be able to accept this change. Our committee was comprised of three retirees and three people who run their own small businesses and consultancies.

We had spirited discussions that were driven by our diverse range of views, and we believe that our diverse array of neighbors and friends on Bainbridge Island all understand the urgent necessity to take concrete action toward solving our interlinked, long-running challenges present in our labor market, on our roads, in our natural environment and with our housing stock.

We believe that the range of views and opinions in the committee are indeed reflective of the range of values in our community at large.

We invite Hytopoulos and the rest of the members of City Council, as well as the public and media, to refer to our final work product if they have any questions about our determination.

Salary Commission members Andi O’Rourke, Lisa Neal, Dick Haugan and James Hermanson (chair)

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