The Winlock City Council has chosen to increase the salary of Mayor Lonnie J. Dowell in light of the time and effort he has spent on the job since his term began in January.
Increasing from $250 per month to $500 per month, an increase in salary was proposed May 27 by Council Member Sarah Gifford for what she noted have been near full-time hours put in by Dowell since taking office, particularly in the search of grants to help fund much-needed infrastructure repairs.
“It kind of bugs me that the mayor is only making $250 per month,” she said. “He doesn’t even make minimum wage, the way it’s set right now.”
While Gifford had originally proposed a sliding scale based on hours worked, which could potentially generate $1,000 per month for the office of mayor, the council abandoned this idea in favor of a simpler, flat salary.
“We still want to save the city money,” said Council Member Barbara Pedersen, who said she agreed Dowell has been working hard but felt an increase to $500 would be more appropriate than as much as $1,000.
Dowell’s travel budget was also increased from $250 to $1,000 for the year, as his 2014 budget has already been expended on travels both local and around the state.
When asked to ensure there was funding in the budget for such an increase, City Clerk Theda Curry said tax revenue for the year has been greater than expected and there would be enough money for the proposed salary increase.
The mayor’s salary had previously been decreased last July from $1,000 per month to $250 per month effective in January. The change at the time had been proposed on the basis the city needed to find ways to reduce its budget, particularly in light of nearby cities with no salaries for the office of mayor.
It was noted Dowell had recused himself during the council’s discussion of the potential increase, but returned to officiate the official vote to approve the salary change.