Commission recommends 45 percent raise in Bellevue Council salaries

The Salary Commission updated the salaries of the Bellevue City Council last week, approving a raise 0f 45 percent for every position.

The strikingly large number is a culmination of several factors, including the fact that the city had not updated its council salary since 1999. If broken down year-to-year, the raise was actually only 2.64 percent each year.

Council members’ salaries went up from $1,650 to $2,394. The deputy mayor will be paid $2,539 and the mayor $2,829. The salaries will go into effect Jan. 7, 2017.

Jerry Kroon, vice chair of the salary commission, said the recommendation was overdue.

“We can’t wait 16 years to do this again,” he said.

The commission was formed in October to be an independent body to look at a salary raise. The raise was based on cost-of-living adjustments. It consisted of five Bellevue residents. The recommendation can be challenged by referendum within the next 30 days.

The commission said it had a difficult time looking at comparable cities to base the salaries on. Vancouver has a similar population, but half the budget of Bellevue, for example.

In other council news:

• The council was given an update on the affordable housing strategy project. The goal on that project is to list multiple actions the city can take as it moves forward with affordable housing.

Council members recommended reaching out to groups like seniors, students and startup businesses. A case-study was recommended on the Highland Village Apartments success story to see what actions worked in preserving that block of affordable housing.

The council named developing “an affordable housing plan for the needs of our diverse population” one of its 2016-2017 priorities. A draft of the strategy is due from the staff and technical advisory group is expected in March.

• The council adopted an ordinance incorporating Vision Zero into the city’s comprehensive plan.

Vision Zero is an approach to traffic safety that seeks to eliminate serious injuries and traffic deaths in Bellevue by 2030.

No cost came tied to the ordinance, but future transportation and safety issues might be influenced by the move to adopt Vision Zero.

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