Tim Burgess Tops City Hall’s Rich List

Nick Licata now owns a home, but still brings up the rear.

Who is City Hall's filthy-richest elected official? Tim Burgess, the onetime-cop-turned-consultant, is the easy winner. The first-term City Council member's latest personal finance disclosure form pegs him as a multimillionaire, and he groaned a little when told he'd won the big-money cup for 2009.Then again, "I don't have any problem revealing my finances," says Burgess, a onetime member of the city's Ethics and Elections Commission, which oversees the disclosure reporting. "Comes with the job." After all, he says, it took him 24 years to get rich in the marketing/consulting field, forming a company called the Domain Group.And maybe we're the ones who should be groaning: He made $100,000 on the side last year and "didn't do anything for it," he says with a laugh. He sold off Domain a few years back, creating the Seattle marketing firm of Merkle/Domain (now Merkle Inc.), eventually parting with a noncompete clause that paid him $100,000 in 2008, the final year of the deal.He still has a piece of a related business, Domain International of London. His cut of that enterprise is worth at least $20,000, according to his filing. "Basically it raises money for nonprofits," says Burgess, who reports no income from it. Clients include Marie Curie Cancer Care and the National Autistic Society, both of London.Burgess has assets worth at least $2 million, but disclosure forms do not require precise numbers; it could be as much as $3 million or more. Public officials are allowed to lowball their reported incomes, assets, and investments using a state-approved code that gets no more specific than broad dollar ranges. If the value of a stock, for example, is between $1 and $3,999, officials can enter an A on the form; if it's $4,000 to $19,999, they enter B, and so on up to E: "$100,000 or more." Burgess has entered 14 E's on his form for the values of such assets as bonds, mutual funds, and a trust.The next-wealthiest elected pol appears to be Mayor Greg Nickels, with assets and investments in the vicinity of $720,000. (Officials' personal homes are not included in the assets figure; also, some officials reported figures that others did not, such as their spouse's income). The mayor is followed by council member Bruce Harrell at $640,000, although Harrell and his spouse, a Microsoft manager, own three homes and may be worth considerably more.At the bottom is council member Nick Licata ($10,000), who reported a steep decline in holdings. "My investments took a real big hit," he says. He also cashed in some to buy a home. "I own a house," Licata says brightly, "for the first time in my life."

 
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