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Hillsborough aviation authority chairman wants to give airport CEO big raise

How big a raise does Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano deserve after nine months on the job?

His boss, Hillsborough County Aviation Authority chairman Steven Burton, says Lopano should get "substantially more'' than the 3 percent other agency employees received Oct. 1.

Burton wouldn't say Tuesday how much that meant, but it could be a lot.

"He should make what the top-tier (airport CEOs) in the country are making,'' Burton said. "He is simply that good."

A raise for Lopano is on the board's agenda Thursday.

Lopano earns a salary of $250,000 a year under his employment contract that went into effect Jan. 1.

He also receives a $49,000 pension contribution and $6,000 car allowance.

If the board gives him the 3 percent raise, Lopano's annual compensation would total $312,500.

But if board members decide to vault him into the range of top-paid airport CEOs, the numbers get much bigger.

At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Lopano's previous employer, CEO Jeff Fegan earns a salary of $378,266 annually.

Last month, Jacksonville Aviation Authority board members gave airport CEO Steve Grossman a raise of $35,000 — or 14 percent— boosting his annual salary from $245,000 to $280,000.

Lopano's contract required the board to review his performance before his first year ended. The deal didn't address a raise.

But he received total annual compensation of $358,142 for the job he left at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Former board member Al Austin said Tuesday that authority general counsel Gigi Rechel told him restoring his compensation to the higher level was part of contract negotiations.

Contact Steve Huettel at huettel@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3384.

Hillsborough aviation authority chairman wants to give airport CEO big raise 10/04/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 10:42pm]
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