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In a financial crisis, county officials unite behind a cause

In a financial crisis, county officials unite behind a cause
By Katrina Kukhar | Lynnwood Times Staff

On April 23, the Snohomish County Citizens’ Commission on Salaries of Elected Officials (CCSEO) received a proposal signed by elected county officials requesting the commission to not vote for any salary increases for the 2021-2022 time period.

The proposal stated, “Many of our constituents have been forced out of work, their businesses shut down, and their ability to provide for their families stymied.”

“We feel that it is only appropriate that elected officials not receive any increase in salaries while our constituents are struggling to make ends meet.”

The proposal continued, “It would be irresponsible to increase salaries at this time while we are cutting expenses elsewhere.”

Signatures on this proposal included Dave Somers, County Executive; Nate Nehring, Council Chair; Stephanie Wright, Council Vice-Chair; Megan Dunn, Councilmember; Sam Low, Councilmember; Jared Mead, Councilmember; Brian Sullivan, Treasurer; Adam Fortney, Sheriff; Garth Fell, Auditor; Heidi Percy, Clerk; Linda Hjelle, Assessor; and Adam Cornell, Prosecuting Attorney.

As an independent commission, Snohomish County Citizens’ Commission on Salaries of Elected Officials meets every two years to decide the base salaries of the county council, executive, assessor, auditor, clerk, prosecuting attorney, sheriff and treasurer. The commission is made up of 10 members, nominated by the county executive and confirmed by the county council.

On June 11th, Joshua Estes, Chairperson of CCSEO approved and signed the request to forego salary increases. On June 17, the Snohomish County Council unanimously approved Motion 20-176, adopting the 2021-2022 Elected Official Salary Scheduled adopted by the 2020 Citizens’ Commission on Salaries of Elected Officials.

The salary schedule for elected officials for 2021 and 2022 is the same as it is on December 31, 2020 and is as follows:

  • County Councilmember – $126,571
  • County Executive – $189,457
  • Assessor – $139,765
  • Auditor – $139,765
  • Clerk – $139,765
  • Sheriff – $165,646
  • Treasurer – $139,765.

The salary for the Prosecuting Attorney is equal with the Superior Court Judges’ salaries, however, per the request of Cornell, his salary will remain the same as it was for year 2020. 

Lynnwood Times followed up with several of the elected officials who had signed the proposal for a comment. The officials could not be reached at the time. However, we were able to get Linda Hjelle’s statement on a phone call.

When asked what propelled her to not accept a salary increase, Hjelle replied, “The county is in a financial situation and it is important that the salary reflects the needs of the county.”

Hjelle continued, “We are all trying to find ways to be cognizant of the county’s need and are doing our part.”

Regarding her thoughts on CCSEO and the work they do, Hjelle believes that having an outside perspective is important and she appreciates the commission taking the proposal into consideration.

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