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Oak Harbor Mayor pushes to cut salaries, benefits for elected officials

Scott Dudley said he expects a pair of proposals to ignite fireworks during next Tuesday’s council meeting.

Oak Harbor’s mayor added a couple of his ideas, which have already proven to be controversial, to the City Council agenda.

He is asking the council members to do away with health insurance for elected officials and to cut elected officials’ salaries.

He revealed his proposal to the Whidbey News-Times in April.

Dudley pointed out that both the mayor and council members are part-time employees; other part-time employees don’t receive health insurance coverage.

Very few cities the size of Oak Harbor offer health insurance to elected officials, he said. Providing the coverage to the mayor and council members will cost the city about $53,000 this year.

Dudley said he also wants salaries to be cut for the mayor and council members. He pointed out that council members declared a “financial emergency.”

Several council members, however, said that Dudley’s move is purely political.

They argue that Dudley created the city’s current financial problems by firing a series of employees who held management positions.

“This mayor has squandered $620,000,” Councilman Rick Almberg said. “He could give up his salary, he could give up his benefits, and it would take over 30 years to pay that back to the city.”

“The $500 that council members get a month in totally inconsequential compared to the $600,000-plus he has wasted.”

Dudley earns $50,000 a year, but gives back 20 percent of his paycheck to the city.

Council members earn approximately $7,200 a year, plus health insurance.

Statistics from the Association of Washington Cities show that the Oak Harbor council members earn just slightly above average for similar-sized cities.

The mayor, on the other hand, makes about twice the average amount among cities of a similar size, according to Association of Washington Cities statistics.

Dudley is forcing the council members to confront the issue by placing it on the council agenda.

He predicts that the council may simply table the issue, as they did recently with a controversial policy on prayer before council meetings.

 

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