The Port of Seattle Commission on March 12 unanimously voted to give itself a substantial pay raise, with commissioners’ compensation set to increase from $6,000 a year to $42,100 annually later this year.
Seattle commissioners currently earn $500 a month, but can take $104 per diem for each day of commission work, up to $12,500 a year. The sevenfold pay hike was proposed by Commissioner Tom Albro, who made his case in a Feb. 26 letter to constituents.
“There are two reasons this change must be made,” he wrote. “The trifling salary (of $6,000) imposes an unstated, but all too real, financial hurdle for those who might wish to run for the office. If you have to work full-time to pay your bills, you will not apply. As a citizen, this notion offends me.”
The second reason for the increase, Albro said, was that port commissioners duties warrant the higher salary.
“The role requires a substantial commitment of time and effort and we need it to be done well,” he wrote. “It is a big job to be thoughtfully and usefully engaged everywhere it matters.”
The increase brings the commissioners’ pay level up to over $3,500 a month – the same as a part-time Washington state legislator -- but not until after the November elections, when four out of the five commission seats are up for election, including Albro’s.
However, Albro has said if re-elected later this year, he’ll decline to accept to the pay increase, something that’s specifically allowed under state law.
The vote in favor of the raise was 3-0, with Commissioner Bill Bryant absent. Bryant had previously voiced his opposition to the increase.