After a year without raises at Port Tampa Bay, CEO Paul Anderson is getting a big one.
Port commissioners on Tuesday voted to boost Anderson’s salary to just over $507,000, representing a 9 percent raise — 3 percent for merit and 6 percent for cost of living — from his current salary of $465,307.
In addition, Anderson will receive a one-time deferred compensation bonus of $160,000 — double the amount of the first such bonus he received in 2019. And his contract will be extended two years, through 2026.
The salary bump, which is commensurate with those given to at least 32 other port employees since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1, passed unanimously, minus the vote of Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, who left the meeting early due to a schedule conflict.
The bonus, on the other hand, spurred some debate.
At first, commissioner Patrick Allman proposed a bonus of $120,000, calling Anderson “the best CEO I’ve ever worked with or done business with.” That led one of the board’s newer members, Hillsborough County Commissioner Harry Cohen, to ask where that number came from, and whether it deserved a bit more scrutiny.
“I’m not necessarily against it, but I can’t just vote for it out of thin air without having some time to reflect and understand a little bit about traditionally, how this organization has made decisions like that,” Cohen said. “That’s a large thing to ask for, for me, right off the cuff sitting here.”
Other commissioners, however, argued that the figure was actually too low — that Anderson’s high performance review marks, coupled with the lack of a bonus last year, meant he deserved even more compensation, especially compared to the salaries of other CEOs in the private sector.
While the coronavirus pandemic cut into port revenues through the shutdown of the cruise industry, the port has grown its business operations in other ways. This spring, the port approved a lease deal for a $160 million cardboard recycling facility that’s expected to significantly boost its export business. In June, officials announced a new shipping deal with Dole that would bring fresh fruit from Central America to a refrigerated warehouse at Port Tampa Bay.
Recently, Anderson appeared alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis and other port leaders from around the state, urging shipping companies to re-route their cargo through the Sunshine State to help alleviate the ongoing supply chain crisis causing backups at ports off the coasts of California and Georgia.
“As an evaluator, I’ve never given a higher mark than I gave this year — not just for Mr. Anderson, but for any employee evaluation,” said board chairperson Chad Harrod, who proposed boosting the bonus to $160,000. “I look at his standing within the port industry as a whole, and how important employee retention is, and when you’ve got a rock star, you’ve got to make sure you keep him. And when someone’s a stallion for your company, you’ve got to make sure you reward them.”
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The $160,000 bonus passed with only Cohen dissenting. Anderson’s pay increase will go into effect retroactive to Oct. 1.