Richland Mayor Michael Alvarez was elected to the Benton County Commission in November leaving an opening on the Richland City Council

Candidates for an appointment to the Richland City Council have until 5 p.m. Dec. 14 to submit their applications. The monthly salary for the part-time job is $1,231, but benefits can almost triple the compensation.

Training for the job will be provided. Some of the training materials are online for anyone to access.

New councilmember education includes Open Government Training from the Washington State Office of the Attorney General and a half-day workshop, Elected Officials Essentials, by the Association of Washington Cities, City Manager Jon Amundson wrote the Observer in an email.

Amundson, the city attorney, city clerk, department directors, and staff from information technology and human resources meet all day with new councilmembers to brief them on Richland city government. City staff covers everything from public records disclosure policy, to travel expenses, current year legislative priorities, council assignments and benefits enrollment.

The council seat became open when Mayor Michael Alvarez was elected to a position on the Benton County Commission in November. The councilmembers will elect a new mayor after they choose Alvarez’s replacement.

The new councilmember will have to be elected in November 2023 in order to serve the final two years of Alvarez’s term. Alvarez was elected to the Richland Council for four-year term in November, 2021.

Alvarez is currently the most highly compensated member of the city council, according to city documents obtained through a record request. As mayor he receives $250 a month more in salary than the other councilmembers and twice the $93.75 monthly vehicle allowance. 

Alvarez’s medical insurance is the highest of the councilmembers at $1853 a month. Dental insurance is $122.66 monthly, vision is $20.91 and monthly employee assistance program is $1.49 a month. The almost $3,667 a month adds up to about $44,000 a year.

At close to $34,000 a year, Councilmember Theresa Richardson is the second highest compensated member of the council. She receives about $1,357 monthly for medical insurance, in addition to the dental and vision benefits, as well as her salary. 

In March 21, 2017, the Richland council voted unanimously to provide 100% visual and dental coverage for members and 88% of the medical coverage for city councilmembers and their families, replacing a 2001 ordinance that allowed them access to the employee insurance program.

The benefits, which vary according to the number of family members covered by the medical insurance and whether or not a member has coverage elsewhere, create a disparity in the compensation for the councilmembers. 

Since Councilmembers Sandra Kent and Jhoanna Jones accept no medical coverage from the city, their compensation package only includes the $1,231 salary, $93.75 monthly for a vehicle and $1.49 for the monthly employee assistance program. The yearly total for each of the two is about $15,914, a little more than a third of what Alvarez receives.

In 2019, Bob Thompson was the most highly compensated member of the Richland council at about $37,862. Alvarez was second at $34,862.

Kennewick provides their councilmembers with approximately the same benefit package. Pasco does not provide any type of medical insurance for councilmembers.