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Permanent Fund Corp. adopts new pay plan

Posted: Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. will give raises to nearly one-third of its staff beyond cost of living, saying wages have fallen behind similar positions.

The Permanent Fund's Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of the decision during a meeting Monday.

Ten employees will be immediately affected by the new salary schedule; five topped out at the old schedule and five were at the bottom and will be brought up by the new schedule, Permanent Fund Executive Director Mike Burns said.

The corporation, which manages the state's $35 billion Permanent Fund, is exempt from the state's job classification system and has created its own system, said Joan Cahill, the corporation's human resources manager.

Cahill said that most of the raises will go to the Fund's investment officers. The corporation competes with others in the investment world for talent.

The new salary schedule was based on a combination of what other public funds similar to the Permanent Fund pay their staff, the State of Alaska's salary schedule, and the cost of hiring people in Juneau.

The Permanent Fund's low salary schedule has also made it difficult to hire for receptionists and administrative staff, Cahill said.

"People are turning us down for jobs at the very lowest levels," she said.

"That's the most compelling argument for addressing this, because we are not able to recruit and retain," said Steve Frank, chairman of the board of trustees.

The current recession has not trimmed average salaries for investment professionals, she said, contrary to what some have assumed.

Nationally many financial firms trimmed staffs, but they mostly cut back on new hires and low-level staff.

"The people who could produce were kept, and they made more money," she said.

That meant that average pay in the field may have increased, even though there were fewer investment professionals working.

Burns said the salary schedule changes will cost the corporation about $120,000 next year. The raises will go into effect immediately in an effort to begin paying them before the end of the fiscal year. That will ensure they become part of the base budget next year, he said.

The corporation has about 34 employees and will have to manage vacancies to ensure there is money available for raises," Burns said.

Burns himself is not one of those getting a raise, Cahill said. His salary is in the middle of the salary range for the executive director.

The corporations highest paid employee is Chief Investment Officer Jeff Scott, who was hired in 2008 at $325,000, well outside the salary range for that position.

"We had to go completely outside our salary structure" to hire Scott, Cahill said.

Scott will not be getting a raise as a result of the new salary schedule either.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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