Divided Port grants leader a pay raise

Jim Knight

After a contentious, four-hour Port of Astoria Commission meeting, Executive Director Jim Knight walked away with a certificate of recognition and a raise.

The Port Commission, following a common pattern in controversial issues, voted 3-2 to grant Knight a 2.5 percent pay increase. Commissioners John Raichl, Robert Mushen and James Campbell voted “yes,” with Bill Hunsinger and Stephen Fulton voting “no.”

Campbell listed a long list of accomplishments, from improving the Port’s image and finances to assembling a quality staff and addressing many outdated policies, he said warranted a raise for Knight.

Hired in October 2014 on a three-year contract, Knight started at $150,000. Fulton said he received an approximately 5 percent raise last year after a positive review by the commission. Mushen, who said Knight received a 4 out of 5 average score on his most recent evaluation this year, estimated the director’s new raise at between $3,000 and $4,000, which would bring his salary above $160,000.

Hunsinger, who has been critical of Knight on most issues, argued that his pay is out of line with other regional port directors, claiming Knight would make more than the manager of the Port of Longview, Washington, and be paid second regionally to Bill Wyatt, executive director of the Port of Portland.

The Daily News in Longview reported that when Port of Longview CEO Geir-Eilif Kalhagen was fired in January after three years, he was making $187,000. His replacement, former interim CEO Norm Krehbiel, started at $160,000. Wyatt’s salary was listed at $394,440 last year. Julianna Marler, interim CEO of the Port of Vancouver, started at $180,000 in May, according to The Columbian. Her predecessor, Todd Coleman, made $212,000.

Hunsinger said the salary bump is not a good idea when the Port is uncertain about how it will pay for some other projects. Fulton said he couldn’t support the increase, based on his 50 percent rating of Knight in the evaluation and because of the issues Hunsinger raised.

In other news:

• Knight, nominated by Mushen for the Special Districts Association of Oregon’s Outstanding Manager of the Year Award, lost out but was given a certificate of recognition. Luanne Richey, the association’s director of membership services, wrote that “Although Mr. Knight was not selected to receive the outstanding manager award, the (awards) committee was extremely impressed with his significant contributions to the district.”

• The Port renewed a one-year contract with Gary Kobes to continue as manager of the Astoria Regional Airport in Warrenton for $50 an hour. Kobes is a contractor with the Port through his company, Landside Resources Inc., and a commissioner for the Port of Chinook, Washington.

• Jim Lanzarotta, an accountant with Moss Adams LLP, said the Port had received a clean opinion on its 2015-16 audit, which is due to the state by the end of the year. Moss Adams has audited the Port three times since 2013-14, when the Port was late on submitting an audit after firing its former finance manager and expressing doubts over the accuracy of financial statements.

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