Increase to Poulsbo judge’s hours means eligibility for retirement benefits

POULSBO — Poulsbo Municipal Judge Jeffrey Tolman will see an increase to his hours retroactively starting Jan. 1, 2018, making the judge eligible for the city’s Public Employee Retirement System.

The judge’s position is currently a .39 full-time equivalent — 68 hours per month — and does not qualify for retirement benefits.

Council voted unanimously (with councilors Ken Thomas and Abby Garland absent along with Mayor Becky Erickson) on Wednesday to acknowledge the extra hours Tolman has been working, as per the finding of a recent audit. Tolman’s position will be moved up to .52 FTE – 90 hours per month. The increase to Tolman’s hours will not include a salary increase.

In April, Erickson proposed a salary increase for Tolman and herself. However, the council agreed to defer any decision on the matter until the next budget cycle. The salary increase, which was recommended by the Finance and Administration Committee, would have seen Tolman’s annual salary rise by $16,356, bringing the total to $75,373.

During an April 25 workshop examining Tolman’s and Erickson’s salaries, Thomas cited as cause for a raise: the fact that Tolman had seen an increase in municipal court hearings since 2014, which totaled 2,878 hearings. In 2017, Tolman presided over 4,142 hearings. The increase to Tolman’s hours was also recommended by the Administrative Office of the Courts.

Councilor Jeff McGinty, acting as deputy mayor in Erickson’s absence, said the council felt it more appropriate to apply the FTE changes retroactively because the judge had already been handling a heavier case load than was reflected in his previous FTE.

“He’s performed that job all year long, at that workload, so we felt it was appropriate to make it begin at the beginning of the work year, versus starting it at July 1,” McGinty said.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story erroneously stated that the increase in hours would begin in 2019.