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New Metro chief executive will make nearly $350,000 in salary, stipends

Phil Washington's four-year Metro contract guarantees a minimum annual salary of $327,000

The incoming chief executive of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will make nearly $350,000 a year in salary and stipends, an increase of $20,000 over his predecessor's earnings.

Phil Washington, who most recently led Denver's transit agency, signed a four-year contract with a base salary of $327,000. He will also receive a $20,000 annual stipend for transportation, insurance and living expenses, and six weeks of paid time off per year. 

Washington starts May 11. He replaces Art Leahy, who left Metro in April after six years as chief executive and now leads Metrolink, Southern California's commuter railroad.

Metro will pay all the costs associated with selling Washington's home in Aurora, Colo., including brokerage fees. The agency will also pay the costs associated with buying a home in Southern California, including buying down the interest rate of a home loan by 1%.

"That's a pretty common offer for CEOs," Metro spokesman Marc Littman said. He added that $327,000 was the minimum salary listed for the chief executive position. 

Washington will also receive a monthly stipend of $3,500 per month, for up to a year, and he and his wife will receive free transit passes. 

Metro will contribute the maximum allowable amounts to Washington's 401(k) and 457 retirement accounts. His total retirement contributions for 2015 will total $48,000 -- since he’s older than 50. He will also be eligible to draw a pension from California's public pension fund, CalPERS, once he retires.

Washington joins Metro at a critical time: The agency is in the midst of a multibillion-dollar rail-building boom that has the potential to reshape the face of commuting habits and development along the traffic-choked streets of greater Los Angeles. Nearly a decade after voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase for transportation improvements, Metro is simultaneously building five rail lines and is in the early stages of drafting another proposed levy that could fund a dozen more.

Washington also will supervise a fleet of more than 2,200 buses and 300 trains, which cover more than 1,400 miles of Los Angeles County.

Metro's board of directors will have the option to extend Washington's contract by one or two years in 2019.

For more Los Angeles transportation news, follow @laura_nelson on Twitter.

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