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Salary Increases Coming in 2024 for Many Special Purpose District Officials

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Editor's note: This article was updated February 2, 2024 to clarify that port districts are authorized to set their own salary schedules in lieu of following the OFM salary schedule.


As those of you knowledgeable in special purpose districts may be aware, elected commissioners, board members, supervisors, and directors of special purpose districts receive increases in compensation every five years as established by the Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM).

OFM is required to calculate the new dollar threshold and transmit it to the Office of the Code Reviser for publication in the Washington State Register at least one month before the new dollar threshold is to take effect. In prior years, these increases became effective on July 1. As of 2024, these increases now take effect on January 1, with adjustments occurring every five years thereafter.

Background

OFM recently released the Notice of Dollar Threshold Adjustment for all special purpose districts (see WSR 23-23-158). As OFM states in the notice:

The adjustment is to be based upon changes in the consumer price index for “wage earners and clerical workers, all items” compiled by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor during that time period. The new dollar threshold shall be transmitted to the Office of the Code Reviser for publication in the Washington State Register at least one month before the new threshold takes effect. Over the five-year period from October 2018 to October 2023, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA area as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, increased by 26.16 percent.

Specific Guidance on Compensation

Below is a list of districts, presented alphabetically, with a description that includes:

  • Applicable RCW;
  • Compensation, both per diem and salary, if applicable (numerically only), and position(s) for which it is applicable;
  • Annual cap, and;
  • Notes as to whether the compensation amount is required (shall) or a maximum (may). 

Regarding compensation, interpretation of the word “shall” by MRSC and the Washington State Auditor’s Office has been and continues to be that the threshold is mandatory, meaning the new rates are effective January 1, and are to be paid regardless of whether or not the elected official is newly elected or serving an existing term.

The word “may” is interpreted to mean “maximum.” In these districts, officials may choose to take an increase in compensation up to the maximum threshold. They will, however, need to take action to establish what that new rate will be. Further, elected officials in the midst of a term may not receive a compensation increase until such time as they are re-elected. Current officials also must take action prior to the end of 2023 for newly elected officials of the district to receive the 2024 rate.

Here is the list of alphabetized special purpose districts.

  • Board of Drainage (RCW 85.06.380): Payment of compensation for the board and members of the board may be at a rate up to $161 per day, with compensation for each commissioner not to exceed $15,456 per year.
  • Cemetery Districts (RCW 68.52.220): Payment of compensation for each commissioner may be at a rate up to $161 per day, with compensation for each commissioner not to exceed $15,456 per year.
  • Diking Districts (RCW 85.05.410): Payment of compensation for each commissioner may be at a rate up to $161 per day, with compensation for each commissioner not to exceed $15,456 per year.
  • Diking, Drainage, and Sewerage Improvement Districts (RCW 85.08.320): Payment of compensation for each member of the board of supervisors may be at a rate up to $161 per day, with compensation for each commissioner not to exceed $15,456 per year.
  • Diking and Drainage Districts in two or more counties (RCW 85.24.080): Payment of compensation for each member of the board may be at a rate up to $161 per day, with compensation for each member not to exceed $15,456 per year.
  • Fire Districts: (RCW 52.14.010): Payment of compensation for each member of the board shall be at a rate of $161 per day, with compensation for each commissioner not to exceed $15,456 per year. Members serving in an ex-officio capacity on a board of fire commissioners may not receive compensation.
  • Flood Control Districts (RCW 86.09.283): Payment of compensation for each member of the board of directors may be at a rate up to $161 per day, with compensation for each member not to exceed $15,456 per year.
  • Flood Control Zone Districts (RCW 86.15.055): Payment of compensation for each member of the board of supervisors may be at a rate up to $161 per day, with compensation for each supervisor not to exceed $15,456 per year.
  • Irrigation Districts (RCW 87.03.460): Payment of compensation for each district director shall be at a rate of $161 per day, with compensation for each director not to exceed $15,456 per year.
  • Metropolitan Park Districts (RCW 35.61.150): Payment of compensation for each commissioner may be at a rate up to $161 per day, with compensation for each commissioner not to exceed $15,456 per year. However, for any metropolitan park district with facilities, including an aquarium, a wildlife park, and a zoo, and which is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency, the annual compensation maximum amount per commissioner is $30,912.
  • Port Districts (RCW 53.12.260): Port districts may either follow the OFM salary schedule or, alternatively, set higher or lower compensation by board resolution – see RCW 53.12.260(3). For ports following the OFM schedule, payment of compensation for each commissioner shall be at a rate of $161 per day, with compensation for each commissioner not to exceed $15,456 per year, or $19,320 per year for districts with a gross operating income of $25 million or more in the preceding calendar year. Commissioners also receive a salary of $899 for districts with a gross operating income of $25 million or more in the preceding calendar year, or $360 for districts with a gross operating income of from $ 1 million to less than $25 million in the preceding calendar year.
  • Public Hospital Districts (RCW 70.44.050): Payment of compensation for each commissioner shall be at a rate of $161 per day, with compensation for each commissioner not to exceed $15,456 per year.
  • Public Transportation Benefit Authorities (RCW 36.57A.050): Payment of compensation for each regular member may be at a rate of $79 per day with an annual compensation limit of $5,925. The authority may, by resolution, increase the payment of per diem to $161 per day/regular member with an annual compensation limit of $12,075. The dollar threshold for the chair is $79 per day with an annual compensation limit of $7,900. The authority may, by resolution, increase the payment of per diem to $161 per day for the chair, with an annual compensation limit of $16,100. Members may not be compensated in any year for more than 75 days, except the chair who may be paid compensation for not more than 100 days. In any event, compensation shall not be paid to an elected official or employee of federal, state, or local government who is receiving regular full-time compensation from such government for attending meetings and performing prescribed duties of the authority.
  • Public Utility Districts (RCW 54.12.080): Payment of compensation for each commissioner shall be at a rate of $161 per day, with compensation for each commissioner not to exceed $22,540 per year. Monthly salaries shall be $3,238 per month for districts with a gross revenue of over $15 million in the preceding fiscal year, or $2,339 per month for districts with a gross revenue of from $2 million to $15 million or less in the preceding fiscal year, or $1,080 per month for other districts. Also, we’re happy to announce that all PUDs in Washington can now use our Ask MRSC service to get free, personalized guidance on any legal, finance, or policy questions! This service is provided through a contract with the Washington Public Utility Districts Association (WPUDA).
  • Special Districts – Diking, Drainage, and Flood Control facilities and services (RCW 85.38.075): Payment of compensation for each governing body member may be at a rate of $161 per day with an annual compensation limit of $15,456.
  • Water/Sewer Districts (RCW 57.12.010): Payment of compensation for each board member shall be at a rate of $161 per day, with compensation for each board member not to exceed $15,456 per year.

Compensation and salary adoption procedures are not uniform throughout Washington's many types of special purpose districts. For information regarding a specific district, follow the link on the relevant RCW.

Resources

Questions about the above increases in compensation should be directed to Bob Baker, Senior Forecast Analyst with OFM.



MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

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About Cheryl Grant

Cheryl joined MRSC in August 2023 as a finance consultant. Born and raised in Washington State, Cheryl has many years of experience working in local government finance, particularly with small cities. Prior to coming to MRSC, Cheryl spent 13 years as the finance director for the City of Chelan, as well as consulting on a variety of finance-related topics for small cities.

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