WAPATO — Mayor Dora Alvarez-Roa wants to be paid.
Alvarez-Roa submitted a letter to the city Monday requesting compensation of $1,000 a month for her service as mayor, as well as back pay for her time as a City Council member.
She joined the City Council in January 2018 and was appointed mayor in September of that year.
“I have never received any pay as a council member or as mayor,” she said in an email Tuesday. “I am simply making the request. Every single council member has received their pay and no one questions it.”
Alvarez-Roa said her letter was included in Monday night’s City Council meeting packet.
The council did not discuss the letter during its business meeting.
City attorney Julie Norton said she glanced over the letter before the meeting “but realized it was a wholly inaccurate, personal attack on me and my firm so I disregarded it.”
Norton works for the firm of Ogden, Murphy, Wallace, in Wenatchee and serves the city under a contract.
Partly at issue is a change in the mayor’s pay approved by the City Council in November 2018.
The change came after the council in September 2018 established a city administrator’s position that paid $95,000 a year.
That same night, Alvarez-Roa was appointed mayor and she appointed former Mayor Juan Orozco as city administrator.
In November, the council approved a measure decreasing the mayor’s pay from $1,000 a month to $1 a year. At that time, Alvarez-Roa seemed to be fine with the decision and told a reporter that she didn’t get into politics to make money.
She also told the reporter that she wouldn’t accept her stipend as a council member.
“This position is one of civic duty,” she said in a Nov. 8, 2018, story.
But on Tuesday, she said the ordinance that would have changed her pay wasn’t approved by the council until February and that it may not have been published, meaning the ordinance has yet to be changed.
She also said the pay change wouldn’t have taken effect until the following term.
“A sitting mayor cannot change their pay,” she said. “Whatever change is made takes effect the following term.”
Alvarez-Roa wasn’t at Monday’s meeting, marking the third consecutive meeting she’s missed.
She blames her absence on a recent change to the meeting schedule approved by the council.
She said the Monday night meeting conflicts with her religious commitment.
“My work as mayor is not just to chair the council meeting,” she said. “The mayor pro tem can chair the meeting. There are other aspects, the day-to-day activities that have to be taken care of.”
Her letter is the latest wrinkle in the political fabric of this rural Lower Valley city since Orozco was appointed city administrator.
The city has faced eight lawsuits, nine civil tort claims and paid more than $566,000 in settlements as of September. There’s an ongoing criminal investigation and eight findings of gross misappropriation of government resources and unlawful activity, including ethics and nepotism violations.
Orozco, accused of helping devise the city administrator position and orchestrating his appointment to the post, agreed to resign in a July settlement with state Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
On Friday, five police officers — four former and one current — and a former police department employee filed lawsuits against the city alleging several forms of mistreatment, including a hostile work environment, discrimination and sexual harassment.