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Port of Seattle CEO secretly gave himself $24,500 pay raise on top of $350K salary, documents show

SEATTLE (AP) — Documents released by the Port of Seattle show that CEO Ted Fick, who resigned Thursday, secretly gave himself a $24,500 raise, inappropriately accepted gifts for travel and sporting events and potentially directed port business to his father’s company.

The Port of Seattle released the information found in Ted Fick’s most recent performance review Friday afternoon. Fick had been port CEO for less than three years.

Documents say Fick gave himself the raise, on top of his $350,000 salary, as part of a one-time payment of about $4.7 million to port workers after commission approval. That action is now under scrutiny after an audit determined the port had illegally given that payment.

The Port of Seattle on Friday defended its multimillion-dollar “onetime payment” to hundreds of Port employees, saying it was used to “address widespread negative reactions” to organizational changes, moving a performance review date and increasing the workweek from 37.5 to 40 hours.

The State Auditor’s Office disclosed Thursday night that it had discovered the Port of Seattle made $4.7 million in payouts to 642 salaried Port employees last year and its draft findings alleged the Port violated the state Constitution as an unlawful gifting of public funds. It asked the Port to review the draft findings and provide an explanation by Tuesday.

In a statement issued Friday, the Port of Seattle Commission President Tom Albro said, “The Port Commission authorized this payment to address widespread negative reactions following a series of large-scale organizational changes, moving to a common performance review date and increasing the standard work week from 37.5 hours to 40 hours.

“We believe that the one-time payment achieved the intended effect of supporting employee retention and addressing employee concerns. We have conveyed to the State Auditor’s Office our belief that the Port has a strong legal basis for taking this action.”

He also said that former CEO Ted Frick, who had been placed on administrative leave in late January, was not put on leave because of the audit. Fick resigned Thursday.

“The Port Commission had raised multiple personnel issues with Mr. Fick during his performance review. He was not placed on administrative leave as a result of the audit,” Albro said.