Port of Vancouver set to reappoint top manager

Larry Paulson, who will retire in April, not expected to get an increase in salary

By Aaron Corvin, Columbian port & economy reporter

Published:

 
photoLarry Paulson
photoTodd Coleman

Port of Vancouver commissioners are expected to reappoint Larry Paulson as the port’s top manager Tuesday, with no increases in his annual salary or monthly car allowance.

Commissioner Jerry Oliver said Paulson hasn’t asked for a raise, nor does he expect one. “I’m not anticipating any significant changes,” Oliver said.

The significant change will come at the end of April. That’s when Paulson, who announced last year that he was retiring, will step down. Todd Coleman, Paulson’s deputy, will succeed him as executive director of Vancouver’s 100-year-old, rail-focused port district.

The executive director position is reviewed annually, Oliver said, and the person who has the job serves at the will of the elected port commissioners.

In fact, it’s the only port management position the commissioners are responsible for filling. The executive director makes all of the other staff decisions.

‘Housekeeping issue’

Tuesday’s expected decision to continue Paulson’s employment as port chief “is pretty much a housekeeping issue,” Oliver said.

Commissioner Brian Wolfe said he expects commissioners will “start having a conversation pretty soon” about officially moving the port under Coleman’s leadership, including deciding how to compensate him in his new job.

For now, Oliver, Wolfe and Commissioner Nancy Baker are expected to approve Paulson’s continued employment during their 9:30 a.m. public meeting at the port’s headquarters, 3103 N.W. Lower River Road.

As part of the reappointment, com

missioners will set Paulson’s annual salary and monthly car allowance for 2012. Commissioners said Paulson’s current salary of $170,568 per year and car allowance — $500 per month for business mileage racked up within a 20-mile radius of the port’s headquarters — will remain the same.

Paulson has been executive director since 1999. Before that, he served as the port’s legal counsel. The change in leadership — with Paulson retiring and Coleman taking the top job — comes at a busy time for the port.

It’s building up its rail operations, watching Farwest Steel construct a new facility on land formerly owned by the port, and planning to make room for a new potash export operation run by Australian mining giant BHP Billiton.

Before joining the port, Coleman was a partner in an engineering consulting firm, Coleman & Davido Engineering Consultants, in Estacada, Ore. He also held positions in Oregon companies URS Inc. and Parametrix Inc.

Oliver said April would be the logical time to discuss and decide Coleman’s compensation as the port’s new chief. But no date has been set, he said.

Oliver said commissioners will use “some benchmarks and guidelines” to decide Coleman’s compensation, including national salary data for similar port positions.

Wolfe said a big concern for the port in the months ahead is to make sure Coleman starts his new job “on the right foot.”