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Sound Transit Board Approves Pay Hike For Chief Executive

A Sound Transit train passes over a Sound Transit bus in Seattle.
AP Images
A Sound Transit train passes over a Sound Transit bus in Seattle.

The Sound Transit Board of Directors has approved a new three-year contract for CEO Peter Rogoff. The contract includes a pay hike for the man in charge of a massive regional transit expansion.

At its meeting Thursday, 14 of the 15 board members present voted to increase Rogoff's annual base pay by about 11 percent to $365,000.  They say Rogoff has been successful in coordinating numerous other agencies and parties as Sound Transit builds infrastructure across three counties.

Board member and King County Councilwoman Claudia Balducci said the pay raise also is about paying as much as other regional transit agencies. She pointed to past cost overruns and revenue underperformance.

"I think all of that points to an agency that needs very strong leadership," she said. "We need to be a competitive employer."

Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier was the lone vote against Rogoff's new contract. He pointed to issues with escalators at certain light rail stations and the potential for cost increases as the agency plans stations for West Seattle and Ballard.

Dammeier also mentioned Rogoff's management problems, which prompted the board to deny him a bonus earlier this year. In a February report, Rogoff was described as "unnecessarily confrontational" in his leadership style. 

"To increase the CEO's compensation by 11 percent, I do not see where that is in the best interest of this agency, and I certainly don't see where it is in the best interest in the residents of Pierce County," Dammeier said.

Sound Transit Board Chair and Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers countered that many of the cost and operating issues predate Rogoff's arrival. Other board members also pointed to new language in Rogoff's contract that requires him to "facilitate a...collegial work culture."

Rogoff was first hired in 2015, just a year before voters approved the transit expansion package known as Sound Transit 3. That package raised car-tab, sales and property taxes to pay for light rail extensions to Tacoma, Everett and eastside suburbs with expected completion in 2041.

A Seattle native and former KNKX intern, Simone Alicea spent four years as a producer and reporter at KNKX. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University and covered breaking news for the Chicago Sun-Times. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times.