News

PUD boosts staff salaries

by AMANDA WINTERS
Sequim Gazette

Three months after approving a three-year 6-percent annual raise to water rates, Clallam County Public Utility District commissioners approved a different kind of raise.

 

PUD Treasurer-Controller Josh Bunch received a 3-percent salary raise Aug. 29, bringing his monthly income to $10,583. He also received an additional day of paid time off, now receiving a total of 27 paid days off.

 

Mike Howe, executive communications coordinator for the PUD, said the five-year-employee’s salary is set based on performance and on industry standard.

 

“It’s fairly industry standard we think,” he said.

 

The PUD is a nonprofit utility district run by an elected board of commissioners.

 

“Basically we have to be competitive and hire people who have a specific skills set,” PUD Commissioner Will Purser said. “We have to compete with larger public utilities and if you look at the numbers, we’re actually really low in what we pay.”

 

Purser said the PUD’s treasurer is to thank for the utility provider’s good credit rating and stable finances.

Most PUD employees’ salaries are set through union negotiations and they are scheduled to receive a 3-percent raise as well, Howe said.

 

All other salaries are set based on industry standard, then raised according to performance, he said.

In March, PUD General Manager Doug Nass received a 3-percent raise as well, bringing his monthly pay to $14,917 plus $1,000 per month put into a retirement savings account.

 

“The management system has been tremendously updated and on all levels we’re performing better,” Purser said of Nass’ efforts.

 

Howe said 17 percent of the PUD budget goes to salaries and more than half goes to power purchases. In 2011, half a percent of the budget was salary raises, he said.

 

The rate raise, at 6 percent a year annually for three years, was necessary to meet regulatory mandates, fund ongoing maintenance of aging infrastructure and to meet other operational costs, Howe said in May.

 

Purser said a survey sent to PUD customers showed overall satisfaction. He hasn’t heard public comment on either salary increase, he said.

 

“I think people understand we have to have the best people running our utility or we’re worse (off) in the long run,” he said.

Reach Amanda Winters at

awinters@sequimgazette.com.

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