The Port of Vancouver Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved an annual salary of $186,524 for the port’s new executive director, Todd Coleman. The board made the decision effective May 1, handing Coleman a retroactive pay bump of about $3,500.
The port’s three elected commissioners said they based their decision on comprehensive data — including comparable salaries of equivalent leadership positions in the public and private sectors — and on their personal experience with Coleman, who previously served as the port’s deputy executive director. He took over the job after Larry Paulson retired at the end of April.
Commissioner Jerry Oliver said he’s observed Coleman’s work for five years, watching him tackle issues in a way that’s best for everyone involved. “He’s an individual who solves problems,” Oliver said.
Coleman thanked the commissioners for their decision. He said he also feels supported by the port’s staff and the larger community. “We’ve got a lot of challenges and opportunities,” he said, and it’s easier to take them on “when we are all pulling in the same direction.”
Coleman’s new salary is nearly $17,000 more than his previous salary of $169,567, which is what he received when he was the port’s deputy executive director. The approved salary level matches Coleman’s request to the commission.
It’s also nearly $16,000 more than Paulson’s annual salary — $170,568 — before he retired, and it’s higher than what Coleman’s counterpart at the Port of Longview earns. However, it’s less than the salaries received by the chief executives of the ports of Seattle, Tacoma and Portland.
Port of Longview Executive Director Ken O’Hollaren, who’s retiring at the end of this year, receives $135,612 annually. The Longview port has hired his replacement, Geir Kalhagen, and says it’s using a salary range of $130,000 to $170,000 to negotiate Kalhagen’s final pay, according to the Longview Daily News.
Port of Tacoma Executive Director John Wolfe receives $220,000 annually. The Seattle port’s CEO, Tay Yoshitani, got a pay raise in 2011 to a base salary of $366,825, according to the Seattle Times.
The Port of Portland’s executive director, Bill Wyatt, receives an annual salary of $346,565. The Port of Portland manages both cargo terminals and Portland International Airport.
Under terms approved by the port commission, Coleman also will receive a $500-per-month car allowance, which is the same amount Paulson got. Coleman will receive a deferred compensation package worth 10 percent of his annual salary. Details of that package will be hammered out at a later date.
The Vancouver port’s executive director oversees a budget of about $85 million, signs contracts and represents the port — which counts China, Japan, Europe and South America among its trading partners — on international business.