Kwarsick: Cut Langley mayor’s salary by $23K

Langley’s next mayor should make less than what the city pays an office assistant.

That’s the view of Larry Kwarsick, who will take over as the mayor of the Village by the Sea in January.

Kwarsick is pushing for a salary cut for the mayor, and the city council is expected to discuss the proposal at its meeting Monday, Nov. 26.

Current Mayor Paul Samuelson is paid an annual salary of $53,000, and the salary level proved contentious last year when it was discovered that Samuelson was still drawing the high pay even while out of state on extended vacations. Council members repeatedly revised the ordinances covering the mayor’s pay and benefits, and eventually agreed to a pay cut of $532 for the year 2012.

Kwarsick, however, has said the salary is set too high. He supports a proposal to cut the mayor’s salary to $30,000.

Kwarsick, who currently works as the city’s planning director, a part-time job he’ll give up when he becomes the mayor next year, said the new salary level is something that he hopes will last beyond his four-year term in the city’s top post.

“It’s something that’s not just targeting my opinions and my paradigms about what it takes to manage a city the size of Langley,” Kwarsick said. “It’s something that would attract other people in the future.”

He added that people should want to run for mayor for reasons beyond a paycheck.

“It is still part job and part service. You have to be dedicated to the community and not just in search of a job.”

“It’s trying to find a balance,” he said of the proposal.

Langley’s mayor would still be eligible to get medical and dental coverage under the new salary ordinance. Kwarsick said he’s not interested in receiving those benefits, however.

“I’m going to decline those,” he said. “I’ve got some medical benefits of my own. I could have them, but I don’t need redundant coverage at the public’s expense.”

Kwarsick acknowledged the concerns that some have had over the approach that he will take as mayor. He has said he won’t be a full-time fixture at city hall, but will rely on the expertise of the current crop of department heads to handle the day-to-day running of the city.

“I think the council over the last few years has developed their opinions about what it takes to manage a small, local government. And I’m hoping through my term as mayor that I can show them that there’s at least one other paradigm in terms of how that’s done.

“I think by the end of this term, I hope to demonstrate to the council and the community that we have great resources within the organization itself,” he said.

The incoming mayor has also proposed a new compensation program for city employees, which would create a payroll grid for hourly workers and department heads.

The proposal includes a merit program for employees and a step program for advancement.

The new compensation grid would include the resetting of salaries for employees — such as $68,844 for the director of the planning department, and $35,360 for an office assistant in the finance department — but the new pay scale would not include nonexempt police officers. Those employees are currently negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with the city.

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