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Assembly mulls raise for mayor

Posted: Friday, May 09, 2008

The annual salary earned by mayors of the Kenai Peninsula Borough has not changed since 1996, not even adjustments for inflation, even as the pay scales of other borough positions have grown.

In a memo to the assembly responding to a request from Assembly President Grace Merkes, General Services Director Richard Campbell said that using 1996 as a base point, had the mayor's salary risen at the same rate as other borough employees, he would be earning $102,388 a year.

Mayor John Williams, in office since late 2005, earns $80,000 a year.

In 1986, the mayor earned $79,268 a year. The following year, the salary was reduced to $65,000, but was raised again to $79,000 in 1990. A $1,000-a-year raise pushed it to $80,000 in 1996.

Campbell said 10 high-level borough employees currently earn more than the mayor. The top salary -- $106,628 per year -- goes to Borough Attorney Colette Thompson. Planning Director Max Best earns an annual salary of $81,051.

Borough pay scales have risen at an annual rate of about 1.45 percent in the 12 years since 1996, though the rate is skewed a little low since there were no increases in the 1996-1998 time frame.

"I believe the assembly should consider not only an increase but also consider annual adjustments pegged to the rise in the consumer price index for Anchorage," Campbell said.

By code, only the assembly can change the mayor's salary, and any change cannot take effect until after an election. Mayor Williams has not yet declared himself a candidate for re-election, though it is widely considered likely he will run.

He said Thursday that he believed the mayor's pay should be commensurate with the job and that a nominal pay raise might be in order next year, considering he would be making about $22,000 a year more had his pay been hiked yearly as other borough employees.

That, however, is a matter strictly up to the assembly.

"They don't have to go that far," he said. "I, personally, wouldn't go out and ask for a $22,000 raise."

Williams said the assembly should consider rewriting the pay code for the mayor's job, adopting a consumer price index increase each year.

He also noted that the FY 2009 borough budget now under consideration by the assembly increases spending over last year by less than 2 percent, despite increases to education and other rising costs. He also has proposed a reduction of the property tax mill rate of 0.75 mills.

Hal Spence can be reached at hspence@ptialaska.net.



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