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With the role of the mayor changing under the new city charter, councilors are working out how to compensate the mayor.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Beaverton City Council will discuss compensation for the mayor position under the new city charter on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

The Beaverton City Council had a lengthy virtual work session to discuss the compensation for mayor under a new city charter.

On Tuesday, Oct. 13, Beaverton's human resources director, Patricia Wieck, presented to council staff's recommendation of an annual total compensation of $80,000. The recommendation was based on the compensation that mayors of other cities earn. The information was provided to council ahead of the session.

Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle, who is running for re-election against City Councilor Lacey Beaty, earns $187,409 per year.

In May 2019, the Beaverton City Council put forth a proposed city charter to Beaverton voters, which was then approved at the May election. The new charter becomes operational on Jan. 1, 2021.

Currently, Beaverton is the only city in Oregon with a "strong mayor" form of government. This means that the mayor, serving as the chief executive officer, has the authority to appoint city staff and is responsible for city administration, in addition to serving as the presiding officer at council meetings.

The new city charter changes the form of government to a council-manager structure.

"I have since received some feedback that we could probably look at county (salaries), in terms of county commissioners and county chairs," said Wieck in the session. "The purpose of this time is not to make a decision but to give guidance regarding where we go from here regarding the compensation for future mayor."

Councilor Cate Arnold agreed with the reduction in salary because it is "a pretty good amount compared to what other city mayors do."

For comparison, Tualatin's mayor, Frank Bubenik, is under a council-manager form of government and receives no compensation for the position, but the city pays 90% of the premium for full family insurance coverage. Bubenik also receives $20 towards his water bill and a $750 one-time tech stipend paid within the first month of taking the position.

In Tigard, it's a different story.

Jason Snider, who serves as mayor for the city in a council-manager form of government, receives compensation of $27,992 per year and is treated as a regular city employee with insurance benefits. Snider also receives $33 per month for his cell phone bill, $275 per month towards a car, and tech support.

When discussing the new salary for Beaverton's mayor, Beaty noted she was an in a "weird position," considering this could potentially be her pay if elected.

Doyle did not attend the work session. In his absence, Council President Laura Mitchell ran the meeting.

"I won't to talk about the salary number, but I do want to mention something … about healthcare, and it (says it) would be a dollar for dollar reduction," said Beaty. "I just want to state for the record, if I'm elected, I won't be taking city healthcare because I have veteran administrative healthcare, so this would not apply to me, but I'm thinking about who would hold this position in the future, potentially Mayor Doyle."

She added, "We should live in our values and offer healthcare. It shouldn't be a reduction. It should be a part of the standard that you have healthcare. This is part of what we're fighting for a lot in this country and making sure that an elected person (such as) a single parent (or) the main breadwinner of the family."

Other councilors agreed with Beaty's point about health insurance and requested for staff to include that as part of the mayor's coverage. Beaty also advocated for long-term disability insurance after having to take time off due to a high-risk pregnancy.

Other discussions in the work session included paid sick leave, holiday pay and paid time off.

There was substantial back-and-forth between council members on how to determine the mayor's salary and what number to land on.

City Councilor Marc San Soucie insisted that the salary be in the six-figure area, considering it would be a professional position.

"Compensation for professionals in this sort of skill set is typically higher than $80,000," he said.

Arnold disagreed.

"It is a professional job, but it's not a regular one," she said. "It's not something that you're competing with and that we're looking at a resume. You're being elected to serve the community. Looking at comparable salaries, $80,000 is already pretty darn high compared to most other counties, even county commissioners and cities that we see around here."

After agreeing on insurance and other benefits, council members tentatively decided on an annual salary for the position at $85,000 with cost of living increases not exceeding 2.5%. They landed on that number after considering 58% of what a circuit court judge makes.

Why a circuit court judge salary?

"Well, Washington County chair and the Metro county chair are all tied to circuit judges' salaries, so I think it gives us a very strong defensible position," said Councilor Mark Fagin.

Fagin also cited an email from San Soucie about the idea of forming a citizen committee to look at the salary issues for different positions. Fagin says this would be a way to involve the community in that discussion.

"You can't change the mayor's salary until before the next election, four years from now, but that provides us with time to engage the community and get feedback on what their thoughts are," he added.

San Soucie echoed Fagin's thoughts about having more time to engage the public about the issue.

"It would have would have been a good idea for us to do this by ordinance," said San Soucie. "The reason for that is, number one, we would have a public hearing and number two, any changes to this in the future would have to have a public hearing as well."

San Soucie requested more information from Beaverton City Attorney Bill Kirby regarding a deadline for the new mayor's salary. Depending on the answer, council will have to fast-track a decision by Election Day or have more time to decide by Jan. 1.

A resolution establishing the compensation for the position of mayor under the new city charter will be discussed again at the next virtual city council meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20.

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