TAMPA — The Tampa Port Authority hired the state's highest-paid port CEO on Tuesday and made sure that Paul Anderson remains the highest-paid port CEO in Florida.
The board voted unanimously to approve Anderson's three-year contract and $350,000 annually salary, officially making him the Port of Tampa's next CEO and executive director.
Anderson, 53, did not attend the board meeting. He was already the highest-paid port leader in Florida when he was making $320,000 as the CEO of the Jacksonville Port Authority.
Not only did the chairman of Tampa's board, William "Hoe" Brown, negotiate a $30,000 raise for Anderson, but the new CEO is also making $81,500 more than the old CEO, Richard Wainio. Though the port receives property taxes, Anderson's salary will be paid from operating revenue.
"I'm excited," Brown said. "He's exactly what the port needs. It's like Gov. Rick Scott says: We need to create jobs in Florida. Paul will create jobs here at the port, just like he did in Jacksonville."
Anderson spent 22 months leading JaxPort and was set to receive a 5 percent raise and $50,000 bonus in September. But the Jacksonville City Council split over his raise and Anderson asked them to table it.
To Brown, $350,000 is what Anderson should have been making at JaxPort. "I think that's a fair number," Tampa's chairman said.
By comparison, the Port of Miami's CEO makes $262,300 annually.
Anderson was not recruited for the Tampa job and instead applied on his own. Hours after Tuesday morning's board meeting, Anderson resigned as CEO of the Jacksonville Port Authority. His first day in Tampa is Jan. 7. He could not be reached for comment.
Anderson brings maritime management experience and political experience to Tampa. He worked as a senior fellow on the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and was appointed to the Federal Maritime Commission in 2003 by President George W. Bush. He also said he worked on the political campaigns of President Bush, Gov. Jeb Bush and former Sens. Connie Mack III and Bob Graham.
That's a plus to board member Patrick Allman. To him, Tampa needs someone with connections to bring in more business and better market the port.
"That position is a rainmaker," Allman said. "You're supposed to bring tonnage, jobs and opportunities to the port."
Job one for Anderson will be growing Tampa's fledgling cargo container business.
The Port of Jacksonville handles the kind of container traffic that Tampa desires: 900,433 cargo containers in 2011. Containers are the most lucrative cargo, and JaxPort led all of Florida's ports. That year Jacksonville had 8.1 million tons of cargo, 189,000 cruise passengers and made $51 million in revenue.
During that same period in 2011, the Port of Tampa handled only 40,000 containers. The port made $42 million, handled 13.7 million tons of cargo and nearly 900,000 cruise passengers.
But Tampa's bulk market is shrinking. It needs to build up its cargo container market.
"Cargo," Brown said, "is the future."
Jamal Thalji can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3404.