Politics & Government

Pierce County Council approves pay raises for three elected officials

The Pierce County Council on Wednesday approved raises for some elected officials, but not for the county executive or council members.

The council awarded pay increases of 2.5 percent next year to the auditor, assessor-treasurer and sheriff — the same percentage as rank-and-file employees. But it decided not to give the same raise to county Executive Pat McCarthy, which would have led to an automatic raise for some council members.

The county charter sets council members’ salaries at 60 percent of the executive’s salary, but it dictates the increase applies only to council members who will be starting new terms in the January after their election.

That means Rick Talbert, Dan Roach and either incumbent Stan Flemming or challenger Derek Young would have received the higher salary. (Flemming and Young are still locked in close election ballot counting.)

Instead, council members’ annual salaries will remain at $107,602; McCarthy’s will stay at $179,336.

Salaries for Auditor Julie Anderson and Assessor-Treasurer Mike Lonergan will go up to $129,785 for each. Sheriff Paul Pastor’s salary will increase to $148,613.

McCarthy’s budget also included raises for herself and the council. The county’s salary commission recommended the 2.5 percent wage hikes for the entire group of elected officials, their first raises since 2011.

But Councilwoman Joyce McDonald, R-Puyallup, recommended removing the executive and the council because some council members would make more than others.

“It’s about being fair and just,” McDonald said. “Every council member up here does the same job and should make the same pay.”

Talbert, D-Tacoma, said McDonald was politicizing the process by not following the full recommendation of the salary commission.

The council voted 5-2 to adopt raises for only Anderson, Lonergan and Pastor.

Talbert and Councilwoman Connie Ladenburg, D-Tacoma, voted “no.”

In the budget finalized Wednesday, county workers also will receive raises in 2015 averaging 2.5 percent for the year. It will be their second consecutive year with a pay raise after three years with none.

The employee pay raises — included in McCarthy’s budget — will come in two steps. Workers will receive a 2 percent raise Jan. 1 and another 1 percent raise June 22, making a 2.5 percent average for the year. Workers were given raises of 1.88 percent this year.