“Outrageous” salary comes under scrutiny

May 18, 2017

Here we go again!  Negative comments over the state’s audit of Mill Creek’s financial records have residents outraged over the salary of the most important official in City Hall.  Specially, the six-figure income to compensate the work being done by City Manager Rebecca Polizzotto.

Yes, at $157,500, Polizzotto’s salary rivals those of almost all countywide and statewide selected officials. (She does make less than the Snohomish County Executive, prosecuting attorney, county judges, the governor, attorney general and state judges.) Remember that the City Manager is responsible to oversee a staff of more than 50 full-time employees as well as 13 others who are part time, hourly or seasonal.

With an approximate population of 20,043, this means that Rebecca is receiving around $7.85 per resident, per year.

Now look at the land mass of our city, which is 4.69 square miles. That means our city

council agreed to pay Rebecca an astonishing $33,582.09 a-year per square mile. But these outgoing tax dollars are calculated for both government and private land, some of which she has little or no control over. So, the $30,000-plus per square mile figure is extremely underestimated since Rebecca is responsible for city-owned land such as parks and the municipal campus.

Let’s break down her leadership pay compared to the number of staff persons she supervises. For debate reasons, we’ll say our city manager generously oversees 70 individuals. Now with this figure in mind, taxpayers in Mill Creek are shelling out $2,250 a year to Polizzotto for every Mill Creek City employee she supervises.

To continue our comparison, County Executive Dave Somers’ has about 2,700 fulltime employees and another 300 part-time staff under his direct control. And the Snohomish County taxpayers pays him a salary of $174,226 a year. This means Somers is paid $58.08 per each employee per year.

With those numbers, we taxpayers are paying Polizzotto $2191.92 per year more for her staff management services than we do for the staff management services of our Snohomish County CEO.

Let’s stop and ask ourselves THREE things:

  • · payment come about?
  • · How did our elected officials let themselves be so out-negotiated?
  • · How did our elected officials let themselves be so out negotiated?
  • · What were Mayor Pam Pruitt and Mayor Pro-Tem Brian Holzclaw thinking when they let such a very poor and long term lopsided decision pass through the legislative process?

Another voice in the debate is Wil Nelson, a citizen of Mill Creek and a person I respect due to the fact he dared to fulfill his military obligation and because he is outspoken about his views. (Noted his April 7 letter to The Beacon’s editor titled Justifiable Spending) “…And while she (Polizzotto) may be well paid she is well worth every penny just considering the millions she has already saved the city. It can also be pointed out that her salary pales to what some top tier city managers and some others make.”

It is interesting that Nelson began his salary defense of Polizzotto in the middle of the problem. The big question (which Nelson overlooked or refused to address) is that the buck should stop at our city council. So who are Wil’s city councilmember friends that mismanaged a large portion of our tax money?

We should not be diverted into looking at Rebecca’s role in pulling our city out a financial disaster, but rather we must be looking directly at those city council members whose lack of check and balancing cause Mill Creek’s incomprehensible problems.

It has been plain to me that the chronic lack of oversite by our self-described conservative elected official--and if I am not mistaken—affirmations by residents like Nelson who consistently refuse to criticize them that has created the city’s financial calamity required hiring an administrator like Rebecca to save our collective tails.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. These same elected leaders choose to overspend again. But this time they did so by rolling over and letting Rebecca out smart them during their so-called negotiations.

When it comes time to finally make a council decision we citizens must have a solid belief that our city’s trustees have us and our city’s best interest in mind. But with our council’s numerous, and growing, erroneous decisions it appears to the Mill Creek voters that, quite possibly, our city elected leaders do not have concerns about our fiscal integrity in mind when they cast votes that compromise the city budget.

Does our city really need (or can we afford) to have such inadequate elected city officials?

Darn right, how can we Mill Creek taxpayers, or anyone except our elected officials (and Wil Nelson), can justify paying Rebecca Polizzotto a staggering $157,500 a-year city manager salary when she oversees only 4.69 square miles?

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