Port of Tacoma

CEO pay, legal challenge to water issues on port meeting agenda Thursday

Port commissioners will hold public comment on the Port of Tacoma’s legal action against a citizen effort aimed at requiring a vote before large water users can get permits.
Port commissioners will hold public comment on the Port of Tacoma’s legal action against a citizen effort aimed at requiring a vote before large water users can get permits. The Associated Press file, 2015

Port commissioners will hold public comment on the Port of Tacoma’s legal action against two citizen ballot measures aimed at requiring a vote before large water users can get permits.

It will also seek public comment on the pay and performance of CEO John Wolfe, according to the agency’s agenda for its Thursday meeting. Wolfe’s contract outlines $300,000 in annual pay for his role as the CEO for the Northwest Seaport Alliance. He can also earn bonus pay for performance.

The Port of Tacoma commission meeting will be held noon Thursday at the Fabulich Center, 3600 Port of Tacoma Road.

Last week, the port, the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit to prevent two ballot measures from moving forward. The port commission will hold public comment at its meeting. The city of Tacoma also filed objections to the measures.

Port spokeswoman Tara Mattina said via email that Wolfe has authority to initiate lawsuits on behalf of the port: “The commission wanted to hold a public forum to affirm their ratification of it and reasons behind the action.”

The lawsuit asks a county judge to invalidate two citizen measures before backers turn in signatures by the June 15 deadline. Both would require Tacoma voters to approve all water permits that seek to exceed 1 million gallons of water per day.

In the past 70 days, Save Tacoma Water has collected 15,000 signatures for both city of Tacoma ballot measures. One — a change to city code that could appear on this fall’s ballot — needs 3,160 signatures. Another measure — a city charter amendment that would be on the 2017 ballot — requires 7,197 signatures of Tacoma voters.

The three plaintiffs contend that if either issue made it to the ballot, firms that use water in the course of business might shy away from Pierce County.

“The Port, EDB and Chamber would be adversely affected by the Initiatives which, if adopted, would interfere with Tacoma’s longstanding program to provide necessary water service to technologic, manufacturing, industrial and commercial users throughout Pierce County,” according to a memo posted with the port’s agenda.

It seeks to stop Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson from validating signatures for both issues.

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542, @KateReports

MORE INFO

What: Port of Tacoma meeting

When: noon Thursday, June 16

Where: Fabulich Center, 3600 Port of Tacoma Road

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