The Port of Astoria Commission on Tuesday boosted the salary of Will Isom, the agency’s finance director, by 50% while he fills in as interim executive director.
The commission appointed Isom to the post after Jim Knight resigned in June.
Isom, who was not at Tuesday’s meeting because of personal reasons, makes $106,000 a year as finance director.
He requested a lump-sum payment of $27,000 each June and December for every six months he fills in as interim executive director. In addition, he requested a guaranteed three-year contract at his current salary plus 3% annual pay raises once he returns to being the finance director.
If Isom is fired as interim executive director or during his three-year term as finance director, his entire contract would be honored.
Isom isn’t interested in the permanent job and has encouraged the Port Commission to hire a new executive director quickly so he can focus on the agency’s finances, said Port Commissioner Dirk Rohne. The commission on Tuesday directed staff to request bids from search firms.
“Ultimately, he’ll be getting paid quite a lot less than (Knight) was, and he’s doing two jobs,” Rohne said.
The Port Commission voted Tuesday to make Rohne the commission’s president, replacing Commissioner Frank Spence in the role.
Knight, who had fallen out of favor with local stakeholders and Port commissioners, made $168,000. He settled with the Port for $221,000 for emotional distress, economic damages and attorney fees upon his resignation, agreeing not to sue the agency.
Port commissioners have given their vote of confidence to Isom, who joined the agency as a staff accountant from Columbia Memorial Hospital in 2015, and described him as a natural fit for the interim job given his in-depth financial knowledge of the agency’s operations.
“He’s smart and serves the Port well,” Commissioner James Campbell said. “I don’t think we can do better.”
Isom has provided the Port Commission with weekly updates of projects he’s working on. They include a new contract with electric airplane tug manufacturer Lektro, recently acquired by Chicago-based JBT Corp., and negotiations with the local chapter of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the Port’s dockside workforce.
“What he’s trying to do is maintain a short list of achievable goals,” Rohne said. “He’s trying to hit singles rather than the moon shot, which is a dramatic departure” from Knight.