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Wolfe wins 9 percent raise from Port of Tacoma commission

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Sep. 6, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
September 6, 2012 4:00 pm

Port of Tacoma chief executive John Wolfe, who turned down a raise last year, won a 9 percent, $20,000 raise Thursday from Port of Tacoma commissioners.

“Your leadership, dedication, actions and desire for the port to succeeded have met and exceeded the port commission’s expectations,” commission President Dick Marzano wrote in a letter to Wolfe read at Thursday’s commission meeting.

John Wolfe
Port of Tacoma CEO John Wolfe

More than two years have passed since the commission picked Wolfe, then the port’s second in command, to replace Tim Farrell as the port’s chief executive.

Wolfe specifically asked that he not be considered last year for an increase above his $220,000 salary until the port’s business improved.

Port commissioners pointed out the port’s attraction of the Grand Alliance shipping consortium earlier this year and the completion of the port’s long-range strategic plan as significant achievements for Wolfe and his team.

The Grand Alliance, which left Seattle in mid-summer to bring its Puget Sound business to Tacoma, is expected to increase the Port of Tacoma’s container business by up to 25 percent.

Since Wolfe took over from Farrell, who left under pressure from the commission when a $1 billion terminal expansion program went off the rails, the port has eschewed big expansion projects but emphasized less costly incremental improvements to existing facilities to attract more business.

Commissioner Connie Bacon praised Wolfe for a rare combination of a competitive spirit and a compassionate nature. “We’re very glad you’re here,” she said.

Commissioner Don Johnson singled out Wolfe’s efforts to open up the port’s finances to public and commission scrutiny.

While rewarding Wolfe with a substantial raise, the commission admonished Wolfe to be diligent but flexible in carrying out the port’s strategic plan, to be as zealous about retaining existing customers as pursuing new ones and to continuing working with Pierce County cities, congressional representatives and the community to create jobs and new infrastructure.

Wolfe said he was “humbled” by the commision’s praise. Whatever progress the port has made during his tenure, he said, was the result of the excellent work of the port’s team of employees.

Wolfe’s new $240,000 salary puts his compensation in the same neighborhood as other Pierce County government executives. Tacoma City Manager T.C. Broadnax receives a $221,000 salary. Recently retired Tacoma Schools Superintendent Art Jarvis made $240,000. Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy made $178,773 last year.

Wolfe’s 9 percent raise matched the 9 percent increase Port of Seattle commissioners recently awarded that port’s chief executive, Tay Yoshitani. Yoshitani’s salary, however, far exceeds Wolfe’s at $367,000.

The Seattle port leader has been criticized, however, for recently accepting a position on the Expeditor’s International board of directors. That position pays Yoshitani $30,000 a meeting. Yoshitani continues to serve as the port’s chief executive in addition to being an Expeditors board member.

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