Port of Tacoma commissioners voted 4-1 Thursday to modify a CEO pay adjustment that the commission approved just last month.
In July the group approved a $30,000 lump sum for CEO John Wolfe — $2,500 per month from June 2015 through May 2016 — as part of his annual review. The modification reduces the lump sum to $25,000, but adds $2,500 per month going forward.
Wolfe, who earned $257,089 as the Port of Tacoma’s CEO in early 2015, changed roles in August 2015 when the Northwest Seaport Alliance began. Since then he has served as Tacoma’s CEO while working double duty as CEO for the alliance. His annual salary in his combined role is $300,000, a cost shared by the ports of Tacoma and Seattle.
The problem with the vote last month was not recognizing that the seaport alliance wasn’t formed until August 2015, meaning the $2,500 a month for June and July in 2015 shouldn’t have been included in the adjustment. Port commission president Connie Bacon rewrote the resolution and presented the revision to the commission Thursday.
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Work that Wolfe does on behalf of the Port of Tacoma is extra, Bacon argued. The elected group lauded Wolfe’s work last month in his first annual review since the alliance was formed.
Commissioner Don Meyer, the lone dissenter, said Wolfe has had too many raises lately while other port workers who have dual roles have not been similarly compensated, with no apparent plan to do so.
The port commission approved a $7,712 raise for Wolfe in July 2015 — a relatively modest 3 percent raise.
But the following month he accepted the Northwest Seaport Alliance post, which Meyer said compensates him for his dual role as the Port of Tacoma’s CEO.
Meyer said this would be Wolfe’s third pay increase in two years, and he wanted none of it.
“I thought it was excessive before,” Meyer said of last month’s vote, which approved a $30,000 lump sum for Wolfe. With an added $2,500 per month, “now I think it’s extremely excessive.”
Also, Meyer said, Wolfe is going through an annual evaluation process with the seaport alliance. The group hired a consultant to evaluate Wolfe — which Meyer said probably means another pay increase.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Meyer said of Wolfe’s extra pay. “You have one position, one job description — and it includes dual responsibilities.”
After Thursday’s vote, Wolfe’s pay has increased since 2015 by more than 28 percent, or $72,911.
Bacon argued that Wolfe’s previous salary for Tacoma didn’t matter: “He stopped getting that salary.
“Since August (2015) he’s received nothing,” for his role as the port’s CEO, Bacon said. “There haven’t been any raises.”
Even with the port shifting much of its business to the seaport alliance, Commissioner Don Johnson said Wolfe still presides over $25 million in gross revenues in Tacoma.
“We are not going to find a CEO for $30,000 a year,” Johnson said.