Utility officials were once again the top-paid city employees in Tacoma last year, payroll records show.
In 2012, seven of the citys 10 highest-paid government employees worked for Tacoma Public Utilities, according to salary records The News Tribune received through a public records request. The 2012 records are the most recent available.
TPU director Bill Gaines was Tacomas highest-paid employee in 2012, earning $318,731, while Tacoma Power Superintendent Ted Coates was the citys second-highest earner, drawing $240,198 last year.
Five other managers at Tacoma Power filled out the top 10, with salaries ranging from $182,384 to $212,002. While in past years Tacomas city manager has ranked among the citys top three highest-paid employees, Tacoma City
Manager T.C. Broadnaxs 2012 earnings put him at No. 4.
Thats partly because Broadnax didnt start his job as Tacomas top appointed official until February 2012, and also because he and other nonunionized city employees took a 5 percent pay cut last year. Utility employees were not subject to those pay cuts.
As a result, Broadnax took home $196,125 in 2012, even though his contract sets his annual salary at $221,208. That doesnt include a $550 monthly car allowance.
We cut salaries for that whole year to help get us to a balanced budget, Broadnax said in an interview last week.
For different reasons, neither Tacoma Police Chief Don Ramsdell nor Fire Chief Jim Duggan ranked among the citys 15 highest-paid employees in 2012.
The two chiefs were out-earned last year by several of their assistant chiefs, including police Lt. Kathy McAlpine, an assistant police chief who was Tacomas eighth-highest-paid employee in 2012.
McAlpine, who commands the Tacoma Police Investigations Bureau, earned $182,784 in 2012, while Ramsdell, her superior, took home $165,265 about $6,000 less than he took home in 2008.
Ramsdell was affected by the same 5 percent pay cut as Broadnax, along with another 5 percent cut that hit department heads during the citys budget crisis.
The pay cuts didnt apply to assistant chiefs such as McAlpine, who are part of a different employee union, said police spokeswoman Loretta Cool.
Meanwhile, Duggans 2012 pay was lower than past fire chiefs because he started the year as an assistant chief. He was named the citys interim fire chief after Ron Stephens retired in March 2012 and wasnt sworn in as the fire departments permanent leader until November.
Duggan and Ramsdell probably wont earn less than the people working under them during 2013. Both chiefs received 13 percent pay increases in May, bringing their base salaries close to $195,000.
We did correct and adjust their salaries to reflect them being higher than the people they supervise, Broadnax said.
While Tacoma City Council members approved the pay increases for Duggan and Ramsdell earlier this year, they rejected a proposal to give market-based pay raises to 389 nonunionized TPU employees.
Although TPUs top managers are among the citys highest-paid, utility employees on average made less than police and fire employees in 2012, payroll records show.
Including overtime, the average police employee took home $90,687.37 in 2012, while the average fire department employee took home $93,205.12.
Meanwhile, the average 2012 pay for a TPU employee was $79,246.06.
The city had 1,274 utility employees in 2012, compared with 416 police and 431 fire employees.
Chris Gleason, a spokeswoman for TPU, said many of the utilitys nonunion workers havent received raises in more than four years.
Gleason said that competing utility companies generally offer raises each year, putting TPU at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting and retaining employees.
She said that utility officials salaries are often higher than other government workers because of competition in the utility market.
Both TPU director Gaines and Tacoma Power Superintendent Coates who earned the citys top two salaries in 2012 also would have received raises under the compensation plan Tacoma City Council members rejected in May.
Our top employees are very recruitable, Gleason said. We run the risk of them going to another utility and making a lot more.
At some point in the future, TPU will again ask Tacoma City Council members to approve pay increases for nonrepresented utility workers, Gleason said, but shes not sure when that will be.
She said that nonunionized TPU employees have been promised market-based compensation since 2009. We definitely intend to stick to our commitment to our employees, Gleason said.