Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tacoma Port CEO Forgoes Salary Increase

Port of Tacoma chief executive John Wolfe has rejected a salary increase for the year, telling the port governing board that he considered such an increase inappropriate given the current economy and economic conditions facing the port.

On August 4, the five-member port board unanimously approved the review, Wolfe's first since taking the reigns at the port in January 2010 – first as interim CEO, then in June 2010 as the permanent CEO.

The review found that Wolfe's performance "at all levels to reach and exceed expectations." The review further stated that Wolfe, who joined the port at a financially challenging period, "managed issues professionally and openly," and praised Wolfe for "proactively engag[ing] stakeholders in reaching mutually beneficial solutions."

While such positive port CEO reviews typically include a raise, the board deigned not to increase Wolfe's $220,000 annual salary and other compensation.

"Normally, your performance would warrant some level of reward in the form of increased compensation or other benefit," Port of Tacoma Commission President Connie Bacon wrote in the review.

"The commission, with your strong concurrence, has agreed to make no changes in your current compensation and benefit package, but we look forward to an economic upturn and port growth where we can acknowledge the high level of your work."

The board highlighted numerous improvements that Wolfe has overseen or implemented during his tenure including: improving staff morale; improving financial clarity; initiating a strategic plan for the port; improving port relations with labor; and, improving relationships with port stakeholders.

In June 2010, Wolfe beat out a pool of 59 applicants for the CEO job. Wolfe's salary, which is the same as previous director Tim Farrell's, was in the middle of the position's $200,000 to $240,000 advertised range. His contract with the port also provides for a $700 monthly car allowance, four weeks of annual vacation, a typical port employee benefits package and a provision entitling him to six months of severance pay if he is asked to leave without cause.

Between January 2010, and June, 2010, Wolfe had served as interim CEO of the port following the late-2009 resignation of Farrell. Prior to this, Wolfe had served as deputy executive director at the port since 2005. Prior to joining the Port of Tacoma, Wolfe served in several top executive positions at the Port of Olympia, including two years as executive director. Before this he spent a decade with Maersk Sealand/APM Terminals in Tacoma.