Camas mayor, city council will get raises

Changes will be implemented in January 2015

A citizen committee has decided to boost the salaries paid to the Camas mayor and city councilors.

The Salary Commission, comprised of members who were appointed in June and met a handful of times since July, voted Thursday following a public hearing to pay the mayor $2,200 per month, plus a vehicle stipend of $200 per month and technology stipend of $75 per month. The position is currently paid $1,300 per month, with no vehicle stipend and a technology stipend of $75.

The commission also voted to pay each city council member $750 per month, with a $25 technology stipend and no vehicle stipend. They currently earn $500 per month with a $25 technology stipend.

The increases will go into effect Jan. 1, 2015, adding approximately $34,000 to the budget, for a total of $94,800 spent on salaries for elected officials.

According to City Administrator Pete Capell, the City Council will not take a vote on the issue of salary increases alone, but the funding will be included in the 2015-16 budget package, which will be approved by the City Council in December.

Members of the Salary Commission are Chairwoman Erika Cox, as well as Matt Ransom, Matthew McBride, Barry Burnham and John Nohr.

In its deliberations, the group considered the duties of the mayor and city council and looked at compensation of elected leaders in other comparable jurisdictions.

Camas has a population of 20,880 residents. It has a strong mayor form of government with seven elected members of the City Council — one elected at-large and six representing ward districts, in addition to an elected mayor.

As part of its research, the commission polled current Mayor Scott Higgins and city council members. Higgins said he works approximately 40 hours per week, while city council members’ responses varied, ranging from an estimated 20 to 40 hours per month. None of the elected officials receive health or retirement benefits.

The mayor and city council salaries have not been increased since 1997.

According to Capell, the Salary Commission will meet on an annual basis. The next time being in fall 2015. Commisioners have requested, in the meantime, that city council members keep track of the number of hours spent conducting city business, so that those numbers can be considered during future deliberations.

With the changes approved by the Salary Commission, the Camas mayor’s salary is now equal to that of Vancouver’s mayor. Vancouver city council members, however, are each paid $1,781 per month.

Nearby in Washougal, which has 14,490 residents, the mayor is paid $2,000 per month, while council members earn $475 per month.

The lowest paid mayor in Clark County is in Ridgefield (6,035 residents) at $200 per month. Its council members make $100 per month.