Friday, March 4, 2011

Seattle Port CEO Gets 9% Raise

The governing board for the Port of Seattle, the nation's sixth busiest container port, has approved a three-and-a-half year contract with port CEO Tay Yoshitani including a 9 percent pay raise that pushes him to more than double the salary of the state's governor.

The port commission voted 3-2 to approve Yoshitani's new contract, which in addition to a base salary of $366,825 also includes provisions for performance bonuses and a rider agreeing to pay Yoshitani $100,000 to stay on retainer with the port for a year if he quits.

Commissioners voting for the raise cited the port's strong performance last year, with the port setting a new record for container moves.

“The next few years will be extremely competitive as the expanded Panama Canal opens in 2014, and we believe both the Port and the communities we serve will benefit from his [Yoshitani's] continued leadership,” Commissioner Tom Albro said regarding his vote to approve the raise.

Commissioner John Creighton, who voted "no," said the raise flew in the face of the recently approved salary resolution limiting port staff to a maximum annual increase of 3.5 percent.

Commissioners Rob Holland and Bill Bryant also voted "yes" on the increase along with Albro. Commissioners Gael Tarleton and Creighton were the dissenting votes.

Yoshitani took the reigns at the port in 2007 at a salary of $325,000, including $15,000 in deferred compensation. Other benefits, including $17,000 in annual pension contributions and a $7,500 car allowance, push the total package to $356,009 a year. At the time he was the highest paid port director in the country.

Yoshitani received a raise to $334,300 a year plus additional compensation worth another $30,000. In August 2010, the port board appeared ready to approve a 4 percent raise for Yoshitani, but they pulled the item from consideration at Yoshitani's request.

Yoshitani already makes more than both the Washington state governor and Seattle's mayor – who earn roughly $167,000 a year and $164,000 a year, respectively.

By comparison, the executive directors of the nation's two busiest container ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, each boasting more than triple the annual container volume of Seattle, each earn nearly identical annual salaries of about $300,000.

The Seattle port authority, which also oversees the operations of Sea-Tac International Airport, is partially funded by taxpayer property taxes.