By Vicki Hillhouse, August 27, 2014, Walla Walla Union Bulletin
Port of Walla Walla commissioners sunk a proposal for raises Tuesday.
A discussion on salary increases for commissioners got little traction and essentially died during the meeting, officials said.
In what might have led to the first vote on salary increases since 2006, commissioners opted to stay at their current rate of $750 per month plus the state regulated $114 per day for each day they spend attending meetings or representing the economic development agency.
Commissioner Mike Fredrickson said this morning the suggestion failed to garner commission support.
He said commission President Ron Dunning has long been outspoken against the idea, and further recent interaction with voters only cemented that stance. Fredrickson, too, said one of the only benefits to increasing the amount would be to make it high enough that the pay could serve as incentive for a wider range of candidates for the job.
Many people, Fredrickson said, operate under the mistaken assumption that Port commissioners are paid a full-time salary akin to the Walla Walla County commissioners.
In the case of the current board of commissioners for the Port, which oversees $73 million in real estate on behalf of the economic development agency, all three are currently employed full-time or run their own businesses in addition to their elected positions. So an eight-hour meeting — as was the case Tuesday — may cost them money in productivity away from their regular businesses.
Combined with the state’s capped $10,944 on the per diem compensation, Port of Walla Walla commissioner salaries may be among the lowest in the state for public ports, Fredrickson said. But the climate and circumstances aren’t right for an increase now, he said.