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Mayor Durkan is replacing Seattle’s highest-paid employee

Seattle will soon say goodbye to its highest-paid employee.

“Running for office and looking at what changes need to be made in the city … it was clear to me that (Seattle) City Light is one of the most important where we needed to make a change,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Monday. “I talked with the director in terms of what my expectations were. We made a mutual decision that he would resign.”

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One week into her role as Seattle mayor, Durkan is not only charged with replacing the city’s police chief, but also the CEO of Seattle City Light.

The utility’s CEO, Larry Weis, is Seattle’s highest-paid employee, earning $340,000 annually. That’s double former Mayor Ed Murray’s salary (Murray hired Weiss in 2016). Weis can also earn an 8 percent bonus — about $30,000 — if he receives a good performance review. Crosscut reports that Weis’ self-evaluation submitted last March indicated he felt that he earned the bonus.

Durkan said the city will conduct a nationwide search for a CEO to take over Seattle City Light. She would not comment on the pay range that she has in mind for the new executive.

“I will tell you that if we pay at a certain range, we expect certain performance,” Durkan said.

Seattle City Light challenges

The electric utility has been mired with “challenges” in recent years, which Durkan noted Monday. The mayor spoke to billing issues and workplace environment.

A new billing system was late and $43 million over budget in 2016. Even after it was implemented, the system resulted in hundreds of billing errors a year later.

The utility also did not recover $133 million in revenue between 2012 and 2016 because of a variety of factors, including miscalculating energy demand and not accounting for customers becoming more energy efficient. City Light is currently studying the problem to find solutions to the financial loss.

This all comes after City Light faced other problems with its previous CEO, Jorge Carrasco. There were concerns about Carrasco as Murray considered giving him a pay raise. The CEO was conned — in a matter of hours — into allowing men posing as Native Americans to steal 42,500 pounds of the utility’s copper worth $120,000. City Light then paid $17,500 to a brand management company to improve Carrasco’s online profile.

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