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Spokane hosting public hearing regarding mayor, city council salary reviews

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(The Center Square) – Spokane residents will have an opportunity to comment on their elected officials’ salaries during a public hearing on Thursday as a commission weighs raises or cuts amid a significant deficit.

The salaries of the mayor, council president and six council members are all up for debate as the Salary Review Commission gathers more information to inform its decision.

Thursday’s meeting will occur at 4 p.m. in Spokane City Hall’s Tribal Conference Room. Residents can also tune in online via a Mircosoft Teams meeting.

Commissioners will decide on the salaries as Spokane sits on the cusp of two administrations. Mayor Lisa Brown took over in January following a contentious campaign with her predecessor, Nadine Woodward, and in turn, inherited a sizeable deficit.

Brown has held several meetings over the past few months concerning the city’s approximately $50 million deficit and even proposed a levy that would raise around $40 million annually. However, last week, she pulled the measure from the upcoming ballot amid numerous concerns.

Now, residents are asking themselves if the elected officials will take a cut given the deficit or have their salaries increased given the cost of living differences over the past few years.

The last time the officials saw a change to their salaries was in January when each received a 1.5% raise that the commission approved in 2022. The decision brought the mayor’s salary to $179,148, the highest in almost 10 years.

In 2015, the commission decided to decrease the mayor’s salary by 6.4% from $179,484 to $168,000, which remained from 2016 until 2023, when the mayor received a 3% increase under the 2022 decision.

Spokane touts the second-highest population in the state, right behind Seattle, but its elected officials still make significantly less. According to the City of Seattle Wage Data its mayor earns an hourly wage of $121.52, which totals around $252,762 annually, an approximately 41% difference.

While the mayor’s salary in Spokane has increased twice since 2022, it has actually decreased by approximately 0.19% since the 2015 decision. Meanwhile, the salary of Spokane’s council president has increased by just over 20% in the last 10 years, going from $55,000 in 2014 to $66,114.

Councilmembers bring in the least of the three positions, earning $49,799 this year after the most recent 1.5% increase. Regardless, the position experienced the highest increase over the last decade. Councilmembers made $30,000 in 2014, a 66% difference from 2024.

However, Spokane’s councilmembers serve in part-time positions, which contributes to their lower pay. Still, the six officials earn more than the average full-time minimum wage employee, who would bring in around $33,862 in 2024 – an approximately 47% difference despite the time commitments.

Seattle councilmembers, by comparison, earn approximately $144,000 to $153,016 annually for their full-time positions, meaning their salaries range from 65% to 67% more than those of their part-time counterparts in Spokane.

Spokane residents intending to testify during Thursday’s public hearing can sign up here.

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