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Seattle City Council approves huge pay raise for City Light head

The Seattle City Council has approved a pay raise of up to $120,000 for City Light Chief Executive Officer Jorge Carrasco.

Carrasco is already the highest-paid city employee at nearly $245,000 a year. The 6-2 vote means he could make up to $364,000, but a spokesman for Mayor Ed Murray tells The Seattle Times Carrasco would get about $305,000 in a salary hike.

Murray has repeatedly defended the increase, arguing it’s needed to keep Carrasco amidst higher offers from other utilities. Carrasco was a finalist for an Arizona public-power job in 2011 that paid between $500,000 and $700,000, the Times reports.

While Murray had sought to have the raise made retroactive to Jan. 1, the City Council declined and made it effective July 1.

The City Light executive salary is paid by utility customers and does not come from the city’s general fund.

Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant voted against the raise.

Sawant told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson she opposes the raise because it further adds to the inequality between executives and other workers.

“I mean this person makes $245,000 and this is a public utility, which means you and I as ratepayers are financing this utility. And I think that as elected representatives of working people of the City of Seattle, the City Council has an obligation to fight against Wall Street-style executive excess, not promote or condone it.”

The Seattle Times also reports City Light signed two contracts worth $47,500 with an online reputation-management company to hide stories critical of Carrasco and the utility and surface more positive stories.

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