Salary Increases Effective July 1 for Many Special Purpose District Officials
*This post was updated on 6/8 to add clarification regarding mandatory versus discretionary pay increases for special purpose district officials and on 6/28 to remove fire districts from the list of districts with a 7/1 salary increase.
Every five years, many of the special purpose district elected officials receive an increase in compensation. The compensation thresholds have been adjusted for inflation by the Office of Financial Management (OFM) since July 1, 2008, based on changes in the consumer price index (CPI) during that same time period for Washington State, as provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS).
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.
Effective July 1, 2018, commissioners, board members, supervisors, and directors for a variety of Washington special purpose districts will receive an increase in compensation resulting from the calculations prepared by OFM and released this week in WSR 18-11-088 through the Office of the Code Reviser.
(Please note that WSR 18-11-088 incorrectly states that fire district commissioners are also impacted. However, last year SB 5122 changed the effective date for fire districts from July 1 to January 1, 2019. OFM will release salary increase data for fire district commissioners to the Code Registrar’s Office at the end of November.)
Impacted Special Purpose District Officials
For the following special purpose districts, the new dollar threshold for commissioners, board members, supervisors, and directors is $128 per day and the new annual compensation limit is $12,288. However, differences in the statutory language for each district —e.g., "shall" versus "may"— should be noted.
MRSC and the State Auditor’s Office interpret the word “shall” as mandatory, meaning the increase in the annual compensation limit is also mandatory. The change is effective July 1st and there is no need to wait until the end of the current terms for the increases to go into effect. Districts that “shall” adopt this new dollar threshold are:
- Water Sewer Districts (RCW 57.12.010)
- Public Hospital Districts (RCW 70.44.050)
- Irrigation Districts (RCW 87.03.460)
The remaining districts have statutory language that states the agency “may” adopt the new threshold. This includes:
- Metropolitan Park Districts (RCW 35.61.150)
- Port Districts (RCW 53.12.260)
- Public Utility Districts (RCW 54.12.080)
- Cemetery Districts (RCW 68.52.220)
- Diking Districts (RCW 85.05.410)
- Drainage Districts (RCW 85.06.380)
- Diking, Drainage, and Sewerage Improvement Districts (RCW 85.08.320)
- Diking and Drainage Districts in Two or More Counties (RCW 85.24.080)
- Flood Control Districts (RCW 86.09.283)
- Flood Control District Supervisors (RCW 86.15.055)
- Public Transportation Benefit Authority (RCW 36.57A.050)
- Special Districts — diking, drainage, and flood control facilities and services (see RCW 85.38.010 for definition of Special District) (RCW 85.38.075)
Members of Some Governing Bodies Also Impacted
Members of the governing bodies of three other types of special purpose districts may also receive compensation increases, but the amounts depend upon the gross operating income or gross revenue of the district. This includes port and public utility district commissioners and members of a Public Transportation Benefit Authority. Again, the difference in the statutory language between "shall" and "may" apply here as well.
Port District Commissioners (RCW 53.12.260): The new dollar threshold for per diem compensation is $128 per day. The new annual per diem compensation limit is $12,288 for port districts with a gross operating income of less than $25 million in the preceding calendar year, and $15,360 for port districts with a gross operating income of $25 million or more. The new monthly commissioner salary for port districts with a gross operating income of $25 million or more is $713, and it is $285 for port districts with a gross operating income of from $1 million to less than $25 million.
Public Utility District Commissioners (RCW 54.12.080): The new dollar threshold for per diem compensation is $128 per day, with a new annual per diem compensation limit of $17,920. The new monthly commissioner salary is $2,567 per month for public utility districts with gross revenue of over $15 million in the preceding fiscal year, and $1,854 per month for such districts with gross revenue of from $2 million to $15 million per fiscal year. For other public utility districts (i.e., those with gross revenue of less than $2 million per fiscal year), the new monthly salary is $856 per month.
Public Transportation Benefit Authority Members (RCW 36.57A.050): The new dollar threshold for regular members is $63 per day, with a new annual compensation limit of $4,725. However, the authority may, by resolution, increase the per diem compensation to $128 per day, with a new annual compensation limit of $9,660. The new dollar threshold for the chair is $63 per day with a new annual compensation limit of $6,300. However, the authority may, by resolution, increase the payment of per diem compensation to $128 per day, with a new annual compensation limit of $12,800.
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