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Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority executive agrees to stay for $225K a year

| Friday, March 17, 2017, 1:57 p.m.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Bernard R. Lindstrom, the director of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, speaks to the press regarding the boil order at the Allegheny County Emergency Operations Center on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority made its interim Executive Director Bernard Lindstrom the highest paid employee in city government Friday with a $225,000 contract offer that can extend through 2019.

Lindstrom, 48, whose six-month contract expired last week, has agreed to remain on the job, according to Mayor Bill Peduto's office.

The retired Army colonel will be paid $225,000 annually under a contract extension through March 13, 2019. His salary is higher than any executive working for the city of Pittsburgh or its authorities, according to salary data provided by the city.

Caster Binion, executive director of the city's Housing Authority, earns the next highest amount at $187,959 per year.

Peduto, for comparison's sake, makes $109,650 per year, which isn't enough to put him among the top 10 highest earners among the city and its authorities.

Lindstrom was unavailable for comment Friday, according to PWSA spokesman Will Pickering.

PWSA can terminate the contract with 30 days' notice if it chooses a permanent executive director.

City Councilwoman Deb Gross, who serves on the PWSA board of directors, reported earlier this week that Lindstrom had turned down a contract extension.

City and authority officials continued to negotiate with him.

The contract provides leadership continuity while a panel appointed by Peduto evaluates PWSA and determines steps to resolve "systemic problems challenging the authority," the mayor's office said.

PWSA has contended with multiple problems in recent months, including lead-tainted water, a boil-water order for 100,000 city residents and a water main rupture that was draining the authority's largest reservoirs.

Lindstrom, a 28-year Army Corps of Engineers veteran, has dealt with one crisis after another since accepting the temporary position in September. His six-month contract paid him $100,000.

"On behalf of the residents of the city, we thank Col. Lindstrom for his continued service and for allowing PWSA to keep benefitting from his expertise in this time of transition at the authority," Peduto said.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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