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March 24, 2011 at 11:20 AM

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Looks like Sound Transit boss will receive a $6k bonus

Posted by Mike Lindblom

Sound Transit's governing board voted unanimously Thursday to give CEO Joni Earl a $6,000 bonus and a 3 percent inflation raise. Her staff met most of the agency's milestones last year, according to this recommendation by board Chairman Aaron Reardon, the Snohomish County Executive.

Earl, now recovering from heart surgery, was making $195,467, so the cost-of-living boost puts her just past $201,000.

The move comes even as ridership on the new Central Link light-rail line remains far short of the 2010 target of 26,600 average daily trips, and the Sounder North commuter-rail line is frequently canceled because of mudslides.

On the other hand, the agency just this week opened its Mountlake Terrace flyer station for I-5 express buses, and construction is underway on the Capitol Hill Tunnel that will connect Westlake Center to Husky Stadium by rail in 2016. Earl has recently pushed to construct the South 200th Street light-rail station by 2015-16, after some board members wanted to wait longer, based on fear of funding shortfalls.

In January 2010, Earl skipped a pay raise that could have been hers, right after a successful opening at SeaTac/Airport Station. This year's 3 percent boost is below the potential 6 percent the board considered a year ago. Even among opponents, Earl is known as a tireless worker who maintains smooth relationships with transit staff and elected officials. A decade ago, she led a reorganization that helped save the agency from collapse, after costs spiked for its megaprojects.

Though Earl is paid more than Gov. Chris Gregoire or Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, she lags far behind Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani, who just bagged a 9 percent raise to reach $366,825.

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Jim Brunner
Covers politics.

Keith Ervin
Covers the Eastside.

Andrew Garber
Covers politics and state government from Olympia.

Emily Heffter
Covers local government.

Mike Lindblom
Covers transportation.

Kyung Song
Covers politics and regional issues from Washington, D.C.

Lynn Thompson
Covers Seattle City Hall.

Bob Young
Covers King County and urban affairs.