Saturday, November 18, 2017
Business

Tampa Port Authority, top CEO candidate working on contract terms

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TAMPA — The Tampa Port Authority is days away from agreeing on the terms of a contract with the top candidate for its CEO job, according to the port board's chairman.

Last month, the Port of Tampa's governing board voted on Nov. 13 to offer the job of CEO and executive director to Paul Anderson, the 53-year-old CEO of the Jacksonville Port Authority.

Ever since, Tampa Port Authority chairman William "Hoe" Brown has been negotiating with Anderson and his attorney. Anderson made $320,000 annually in Jacksonville, about $70,000 more than that of his Tampa predecessor, former CEO Richard Wainio.

Brown said Tuesday that they haven't settled yet on a salary or number of years. Brown declined to reveal any specifics, but he's extended a series of proposals to Anderson and is waiting to hear back from the other side.

"We're negotiating, we're going back and forth," Brown said. "We haven't gotten a signed contract at this time.

"Nothing moves fast with lawyers. But we're getting closer."

Brown's goal is to have the contract finalized by the Dec. 18 board meeting. Then he and his fellow port commissioners will vote on whether to approve Anderson's contract.

There don't appear to be any hiccups preventing Anderson from becoming the Port of Tampa's next top executive. Brown's counterpart in Jacksonville, JaxPort board chairman Jim Citrano, believes they're on the verge of losing Anderson to Tampa.

"I don't know how imminent it is, but I know he's considering the offer Tampa made him," Citrano said. "We're considering that more than likely he will take the position."

Citrano also addressed a recent contretemps between Jacksonville and Tampa. Anderson accompanied Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida delegation on last week's trade mission to Colombia. But Citrano told the Florida Times-Union that if Anderson takes the Tampa job, then the Tampa Port Authority should reimburse Jacksonville for paying to send Tampa's new port director overseas. Anderson's portion of the trip cost about $2,400.

But when he spoke to the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday, Citrano sounded a more conciliatory tone — but he still wants to split the bill with Tampa.

"It's gotten a lot more press than it should have," Citrano said. "Obviously he was down there representing Florida and assisting the governor. As far as who pays for what, it's so insignificant compared to the total dollars involved."

Brown said he hasn't spoken to Citrano but didn't appear inclined to pay anything.

"There hasn't been any discussion at all," Brown said. "I've just seen the media reports.

"They've got their hands full up there, instead of worrying about who's going to pay for Colombia. In my opinion it's just so ridiculous its not worth the discussion."

Anderson is currently taking vacation time in Jacksonville and could not be reached for comment.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3404.

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