Opinion

Langley mayors’ salary story was ‘very misleading’ | Sound Off

By Karen Grossman

The recent story on the salaries of two local mayors (Sept. 8, Whidbey News-Times, “Local mayors outpace their counterparts in pay”) was very misleading. This article wasn’t about providing information, it was about promoting controversy and was grossly inaccurate.

The Association of Washington Salary Survey, used as the foundation for the article, advises caution, in bold letters, about making comparisons based strictly on population. For an “apples to apples” comparison, it is also necessary to look at individual job responsibilities, economic conditions, budget, location and staffing. Both Langley and Coupeville have mayors who act as managers. In your “comparison” you included towns and cities that are half the size of the Langley and Coupeville and for many reasons are incomparable.

On your graph, La Conner is depicted by a very, very little man, implying how much less La Conner pays to manage its governmental affairs. La Conner’s population is 870 compared to Langley’s 1,115 and Coupeville’s 1,890. The La Conner mayor’s salary is only $870 per month, but their city manager’s salary is $5,417 per month. The combined mayor/manager budget is $75,444 per year, while Coupeville pays $63,756 and Langley pays $53,532. Cle Elum is the same size as Coupeville. The mayor gets a monthly salary of $750 and the city manager receives $7,627, for a combined yearly total of $100,524.

In your investigation of South Bend, you state that the mayor just received a raise in pay from $400 to $800 per month and that South Bend does not have a city manager. What you failed to disclose is that South Bend has a city supervisor who gets paid $4,576 per month. The total for the mayor/supervisor in South Bend is $64,512 per year, more than the mayor/manager in Coupeville or Langley.

The graph and article on local mayor’s salary provides very little useful information. It is not a thorough investigation or analysis. It appears that the purpose is to build controversy. It is irresponsible to resort to misleading and misrepresentative techniques in order to sell a product. I have been a supporter of the local newspapers for as long as I have lived on Whidbey. Our community deserves better.

I do not intend this letter to the editor to address any of the other concerns regarding the current controversy in city hall, I just feel it’s important to put the information about comparing salaries of mayor’s of other small towns in an accurate context.

Karen Grossman is a resident of Langley.

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