Joel Horn got an $8,789 merit raise last night, but not until after the Seattle Monorail Project board argued over what sort of message it sends. The reward of 5 percent for Horn...

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Joel Horn got an $8,789 merit raise last night, but not until after the Seattle Monorail Project board argued over what sort of message it sends.

The reward of 5 percent for Horn, the agency’s executive director, brings his current salary of $175,784 to $184,573 next year. He’s expected to also share in whatever cost-of-living pay increase the whole staff gets. That adds another 2 percent, for a total of around $188,000.

Four members of the monorail’s executive committee, which has final say on Horn’s salary, split over the raise. Chairman Tom Weeks, Kristina Hill and Cleve Stockmeyer voted yes, Cindi Laws no. Three other board members without voting power spoke up. Rick Sundberg and Richard Stevenson favored the raise; Steve Williamson opposed it.

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Weeks pointed to Horn’s accomplishments in getting permits, reducing a revenue shortfall and picking station sites for the 14-mile Green Line — even as opponents lobbied and campaigned to kill it.

“There are very few corporate heads in this world that would have to go through everything the leadership of the monorail has gone through this year,” Sundberg told Horn. “If you could lead a private company through the same sort of thing, you would be paid four or five times as much.”

Williamson, executive secretary-treasurer of the King County Labor Council, praised Horn’s “clear focus,” but said it’s divisive when raises widen the gap between an executive and lower-paid workers.

Laws called the raise premature, since the agency still doesn’t have a signed construction contract, and there’s no firm budget for 2005 yet. She called Horn’s performance good, but mentioned recent embarrassments — including a route segment that may wipe out a business that has repaired wooden ships at Fishermen’s Terminal since 1919.

“I think this raise is shockingly ill-timed, with minimal public process and public involvement,” she said.

The agency listed the topic on its Web site earlier, but did not publish the amount of the raise until around 6 p.m. yesterday.

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or mlindblom@seattletimes.com