To lure top staff, Mayor-elect Ed Murray’s incoming administration is paying top dollar. Salaries for some of the new hires that Murray announced on Wednesday are increasing between 14 and 40 percent, compared to those offered during Mayor Mike McGinn’s early days in office.
The boosted salaries are necessary to bag highly qualified applicants for upper-level city jobs and reflect improved economic conditions, according to one of Murray's transition team co-chairs.
Among the highest earning new hires that Murray announced on Wednesday are interim Seattle Department of Transportation Director Goran Sparrman, who will make $176,000 a year, and Personnel Director Susan Coskey, who will be paid $175,000 annually. By comparison, Peter Hahn was offered $155,000 in yearly pay when McGinn hired him as SDOT's director in 2010, and Personnel Director Dave Stewart, who the mayor hired in April 2011, was paid $142,000. Murray's deputy mayors, the director of the forthcoming Office of Policy and Innovation, and the budget director will receive $170,000 per year. Salaries for the other nine new hires announced on Wednesday range from $116,000 to $160,000.
Mayor-elect Ed Murray announces new hires at a Wednesday press conference.
Dwight Dively, director of performance, strategy and budget for King County, who was one of Murray’s transition committee chairs, wrote in an email that he and co-chair Martha Choe, “made salary recommendations to the Mayor-Elect based on the premise that getting good people requires paying competitive salaries.”
*All salaries for McGinn hires are from a Jan. 4, 2010 Mayor's Office press release, except for the personnel director salary, which is from a April 20, 2011 Mayor's Office press release.
It’s worth acknowledging, Dively wrote, that McGinn took office in the depths of the Great Recession and “was able to hire people at lower salaries as a result.”
To come up with the pay rates Dively said he and Choe looked at salaries during Greg Nickels' and Paul Schell's mayoral terms, and those paid in similar cities in the region, including Bellevue. The salaries, he also emphasized, fit within the authorized city budget.
“I think it is also fair to note that the two administrations have different philosophies about the type of individuals it takes to run a large, complex government,” Dively wrote in the email. Mayor-elect Murray, he added, “wants to emphasize public service, but also wants to ensure he has people with the skills and experience to help lead the City. I think if you look at the people he has chosen, you can see the great qualifications each of them brings.”
"Murray announces a barrage of new hires," by Bill Lucia
Official biographies provided by Murray's of the new hires are here
The graphic is by Bill Lucia.