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Tacoma city manager becomes one of the highest paid public officials in the state

Pauli’s reappointment makes her one of the highest paid public officials in the state.

TACOMA, Wash. — During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Tacoma’s leadership voted to keep Elizabeth Pauli on as city manager.

Pauli was appointed to the role in 2017. This reappointment will keep her until May 15, 2025.

Council members such as Joe Bushnell praised Pauli’s work, saying she’s exceeded expectations during her tenure.

“I would say she’s one of the best city managers in this country,” Bushnell said.

The City of Tacoma says the city manager’s role is to work with the mayor, City Council and city departments to make sure the city policies are implemented effectively. City managers aren’t elected position, but instead are appointed by the City Council, and the position doesn’t have a term limit.

Under the city’s updated compensation plan, Pauli is set to receive an annual salary of $309,556, plus a benefits package that includes a one-time contribution of $20,000 into her supplemental benefits account, and annual payments of $23,000 in deferred compensation payments.

But Bushnell promises the city can cover the expense.

“Every biennium, we go through the budget, and it’s a balanced budget every single time,” Bushnell said. “Every single dollar is accounted for. So yes, the budget can handle it. It’s 4 billion dollars.”

But some Tacoma residents like Morgan Reay aren't convinced that such a high salary is necessary or that a reappointment is deserved after the fallout from the death of Manuel Ellis-- who died while being arrested by Tacoma police officers.

“I participated in protests surrounding it, and she’s done nothing to address systematic racism, police brutality, everything was moving at a snail’s pace as far as that case,” Reay said. “I’m shocked that she’s being reappointed for another two years.”

Pauli’s salary makes her one of the highest paid public officials in the state.

In comparison, Tacoma Council members make $49,587 a year, and the Mayor of Tacoma has an annual salary of $111,613.

Bushnell said while Pauli deserves the high salary, council members deserve one as well.

“It’s a larger community conversation we need to have,” Bushnell said. “I do my best to advocate for my constituents, but someone also said you need to advocate for yourself.”

Meanwhile, Reay hopes city leadership can focus on issues that Tacoma needs to solve.

“Pauli, as well as the entire City Council, need to be focusing on affordable housing, actual affordable housing within our community.”

Mayor Victoria Woodards sent a statement to KING 5 on Pauli’s reappointment that reads: 

"I think we can all agree that today's environment is characterized by increasing complexity. Local government executives at this level must address complex issues while overseeing the organization's day-to-day operations. Our city manager must make decisions that account for a myriad of overlapping factors. She has a deep understanding of the interconnected nature of the challenges and opportunities we face. We appreciate the full breadth and depth of the work she has accomplished in the last year. At the end of the day, what she is worth is intricately tied to the value our City Council believes she brings to our organization as well as the market demand for someone with her role."

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