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1930 Kalispell Ordinances: Annual Salaries

Real Estate Broker/Owner with eXp Commercial, Referral Divison RRE-BRO-LIC-75443

I recently found an online directory of Kalispell City ordinances and thought it would be intriguing to see what some of the ordinances of the past were. The last post covered a 1929 ordinance about keeping a disorderly house (which didn't have anything to do with messiness). This one is from 1930 and it is a bit more logical than the last ordinance I shared.

Ordinance #424, effective May 5, 1930, set the compensation for various job titles in Kalispell. Ordinance #425 also added a salary for an engineer. Specifically, here is what various city careers paid in 1930.

  • Mayor $300
  • Alderman $120
  • City Attorney $900
  • City Engineer $200
  • City Treasurer $1200
  • City Clerk $1500
  • Purchasing Agent $300
  • Police Judge $850
  • Chief of Police $1800
  • Patrolman $1500
  • Health Officer $600
  • Librarian $1500
  • Assistant Librarian $1080

Imagine living on $120 per year?

So I wondered how this might relate to today's salaries. I did some online research and from various sources found some of the current salary ranges. I also calculated the percent increase in the last almost 100 years. Here is the result:

1930 Kalispell Ordinances: Annual Salaries chart comparing 2024 and 1930 salaries

Note: The average is a salary range average, not actual pay.


So what do you notice from the above?

The chart suggests that the City Attorney has become more important (in terms of the increase in salary growth) than the Chief of Police. And if you look at the average salary for those two positions the same is true. In fact, the City Attorney's average pay range is higher than any other profession. It used to be one of the lowest.

In terms of percent wage increases, the City Engineer has seen a whopping increase, more than any other job title. Perhaps Kalispell undervalued the engineer way back when. Or perhaps having an engineer as the town continued to grow became more important.

Also interesting is that a City Engineer makes more than a Police Officer. Could that just be a budget constraint and not necessarily a value judgement?

You might also notice the Mayor and Alderman/Councilman job salaries have not increased comparable to all the other job titles. That is because in the city of Kalispell, the Mayor and Councilman positions are basically volunteer/part-time positions and they make just a small salary and stipend for their work.

Another thought came to me, and that is, I wonder how the cost of living in 1930 compared to the cost of living in 2024? In other words, would a City Clerk making $1,500 in 1930 be better off or worse off than a City Clerk making $97,500 in 2024? I was able to find a few items to compare.

An annual home rental in 1930 would run around $20 per month, or $240 per year. That would have been 16% of their annual salary.

In 2024, the average annual home rental (per Rentometer) is $2,550 per month or $30,000 a year which is 31% of our hypothetical Clerk's annual salary. That's nearly double the percent they would have paid in 1930.

If that clerk then left work in 1930 and went to the store to pick up a pound of coffee, five pounds of flour, a pound of bacon, and a gallon of milk, that would have cost $1.19 or 0.08% of their annual salary.

In 2024, the same items would cost approximately $25 or 0.03% of their annual salary; again, more than double.

I think it's safe to say a Kalispell person living in 1930 kept more of their salary than a Kalispell person living in 2024.

Just some food for thought.

And there you have it, another blast from the past of Kalispell Montana. I wonder what I'll find the next time I peek into the Kalispell Ordinances?

If you have any real estate related needs, feel free to give me a call on 406-270-3667 or email me at kat@thehousekat.com and I would be happy to find the right person to assist you! 

Originally published at thehousekat.com.

Photos are from AI and Kat's imagination.


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Kalispell, Bigfork, Lakeside and Somers areas. 

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Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

The irony, the person where the buck stops is the second lowest paid in town.

Feb 27, 2024 06:15 PM
Kat Palmiotti

I didn't know until yesterday that that position wasn't a paid one Ed Silva, 203-206-0754 !

Feb 28, 2024 04:37 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Kat, this may be one of my favorite Kalispell Ordinance posts yet!!!  It was interesting to see what the salaries were in 1930. I loved that you took it a step further to show us what that position paid now and the percentage of increase. Very interesting about the City Engineer!

Feb 27, 2024 06:37 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Kathy Streib - the numbers definitely tell stories!

Feb 28, 2024 04:37 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Loved your post and the comparison to today... Ironically if you live in Los Angeles and you make $150k you are just lower middle class go figure, Endre

Feb 27, 2024 10:50 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Endre Barath, Jr. - And if you made that same $150K in my area, you'd be in the upper class.

Feb 28, 2024 04:39 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Kat - whenever you share ordinances and such from Kalispell's history you are sure to dig up some interesting information.  It's fascinating to wonder what life must have been like in 1930.  It's part of a puzzle piece - unlikely to be completed.  

Feb 28, 2024 02:58 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Michael Jacobs - Anyone who was old enough to be paying attention in 1930 is long gone by now. Although as I get closer to now, there may be more people who know stuff. It also might be less interesting.

Feb 28, 2024 04:40 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

It's interesting to see what jobs were valued the most.  I was surprised by the librarian number compared to the other positions.  I wonder what teachers were paid back then?  They certainly aren't paid well enough these days, haha.

Feb 28, 2024 04:30 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Brian England - interesting question! Since those weren't "city" jobs we might never know but I'll have to see what I can find out.

Feb 28, 2024 04:40 AM
Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400
The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803 - Plainview, NY
Long Island Condo and Home Specialists

Kat, How intriguing. It's fascinating to consider what the salaries were back then compared to now!

Feb 28, 2024 08:07 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400 - Imagine if you told someone in the 1930s that someday people would make $100K per year? They would not have believed it.

Feb 28, 2024 08:29 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much, Kat, for sharing this interesting series.

You made me recall some of the changes that I have seen during my lifetime.

Have a great day!

Feb 28, 2024 08:18 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you for taking time to read and reminisce Roy!

Feb 28, 2024 08:27 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Kat Palmiotti - if I was alive in 1930, I would have wanted to be a Librarian! Interesting how the wages shifted over time. Looking at the pay scale between 1930 and 2024, the Mayor and Council Members still get low pay. Other cities in the US are like that too. Not condoning it, but perhaps that explains why there is so much corruption. The attorneys are Kingpins! Chief of Police too. I wonder if they are closest friends? All-in-all, very interesting! Great observations with local elections at this time of year too. We have early voting now. I'm still thinking. But I will vote!

Feb 28, 2024 09:56 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP - thank you for your comment! I appreciate you!

Feb 28, 2024 12:55 PM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP

Kat Palmiotti - Ditto!

Mar 12, 2024 09:03 PM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Kat and sorry did not see this on my Birthday but glad I look for you this morning.  Wow some really got a major raise compare to 1930.  Make it a great Bonus Day!

Feb 29, 2024 10:09 AM
Kat Palmiotti

They sure did Will Hamm !

Feb 29, 2024 11:07 AM
Paddy Deighan MBA JD PhD
http://www.medicalandspaconsulting.com - Vail, CO
Paddy Deighan J.D. Ph.D

City Attorney gets 3X more than the mayor LOL.  One day I will have to visit Kalispell...I have a corporate entity there and I am addicted to Yellowstone (although  not in your county)!!!

Feb 29, 2024 03:47 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Paddy Deighan MBA JD PhD - and of course Yellowstone is totally NOT what most people live like!!!  You'll have to come visit someday!

Feb 29, 2024 05:38 PM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate (435) 632-9374 - St. George, UT
St. George Utah Area Residential Sales Agent

Amazing what people could live on back then, Kat. Of course, making your own clothes, hunting and growing your own food was a way of life, so there's that!

Feb 29, 2024 05:27 PM
Kat Palmiotti

That's true Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!

Feb 29, 2024 05:37 PM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!

Had to come back and say that I wish politicians weren't paid positions. They were not intended to be in the beginning, Kat.

Mar 11, 2024 06:01 PM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Kat, those are some hefty increases, but for almost 100 years, I would guess that.

Mar 01, 2024 03:13 PM
Kat Palmiotti

They sure are Joan Cox but it seems they haven't kept up with inflation.

Mar 02, 2024 04:44 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Kat Palmiotti ,

How did I miss this post? I'm so glad that Carol Williams featured it in her Second Chance Saturday series! How interesting! The numbers definitely tell a story. I loved seeing the salaries and the salaries now. Your lead photo is perfect! Thank you for one of your best posts on past ordinances you have researched in Kalispell!

Mar 02, 2024 04:12 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you Dorie Dillard Austin TX ! I am having fun finding things out about my town!

Mar 02, 2024 04:44 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Kat. Must say, before the amount of money you made became so important you could live better for less. And wait a few years to see the outcome of Bidenomics for a real surprise. Enjoy your day.

Mar 02, 2024 05:06 AM
Kat Palmiotti

I hope you enjoy your day too Wayne Martin !

Mar 02, 2024 05:21 AM
Joyce Marsh
Joyce Marsh Real Estate LLC - Daytona Beach, FL
Joyce Marsh Homes

This is such a great post. I enjoyed reading this very much and obviously you put a great deal of time into it.  Very clever and creative.

Mar 02, 2024 08:35 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you very much Joyce Marsh !

Mar 02, 2024 12:25 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Kat:

I really enjoyed this particular look at Kalispell ordinances and the analysis you did. It painted quite a compelling picture. I'll have to take a look at the salaries in Carlsbad, at least for the elected officials like our mayor, treasurer and city clerk.


Mar 02, 2024 04:24 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Jeff Dowler, CRS - I bet they are a lot higher than here!

Mar 02, 2024 05:34 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Mar 02, 2024 06:08 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Thank you!

Mar 02, 2024 06:12 PM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

Usually I catch these postings about ordinances, but missed this one. Very interesting. I believe as both local to federal government spendings increased, the citizens lost money.

Mar 03, 2024 07:06 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Yes indeed, Leanne Smith - I believe that is true.

Mar 03, 2024 07:09 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good morning, Kat... those 1930's salaries for some positions were "big" money for the day. I was interested to see how much librarians earned. It's not usually a position you think of as well-paid.

Mar 15, 2024 05:11 AM
Kat Palmiotti

Good morning Nina Hollander, Broker - the librarian is the lowest paid (if you take out the mayor/alderman) and this is the city librarian. Maybe that's different?

Mar 15, 2024 05:15 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker

Kat Palmiotti but if you look at teacher salaries in many places, this librarian makes a nice salary!

Mar 15, 2024 05:21 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC

Hi Kat! LOVE this post and enjoyed every bit of it! What I find so interesting is that two of the HIGHEST paid professions in 1930 are now two of the lowest paid (librarian and patrolman). It's such a shame that police officers and teachers are paid so little - they are two of THE most necessary professions. 

Loved the grocery tab comparison too. I can't BELIEVE how bad inflation is. Sadly, it's the ones in the upper echelon (primarily those in politics) truly have no clue what we, the people experience in the grocery store. I suppose their cooks/chefs do their shopping for them!!

Mar 17, 2024 03:56 PM
Kat Palmiotti

Debe Maxwell, CRS - When I hear how wonderful the economy and the inflation rates are, my immediate reaction is "huh? do they even live here?"

Mar 18, 2024 05:01 AM