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Port Tampa Bay CEO gets $250,000 bonus, salary raised above $550,000

Paul Anderson’s 9% pay bump included both merit and cost-of-living raises.
Port Tampa Bay president and CEO Paul Anderson, shown at a March 2020 news conference alongside Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, will receive a 9% raise and $250,000 bonus, port board members decided Tuesday.
Port Tampa Bay president and CEO Paul Anderson, shown at a March 2020 news conference alongside Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, will receive a 9% raise and $250,000 bonus, port board members decided Tuesday. [ SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Nov. 15|Updated Nov. 16

Port Tampa Bay’s CEO is getting a bonus worth nearly half his salary.

Paul Anderson was awarded the one-time $250,000 bonus by the port’s board on Tuesday, along with a 9% annual raise that will bump his salary from $507,000 to nearly $553,000.

The raise is retroactive to Oct. 1; it includes a 6% cost-of-living raise available to other port employees, as well as a 3% merit raise based on performance evaluations. About 90% of port employees also received this raise. The bonus, which commissioners said can be taken in cash or deferred compensation or cash, will be paid Jan. 1.

Anderson’s $250,000 bonus dwarfs the one he got last year worth $160,000, which itself was more than double his previous bonus in 2019. Commissioners, who rated Anderson’s performance on a scale of 1 to 5, said Tuesday the larger raise was warranted.

“I never give a 5 to anybody, because next year can always be better than last year, so there always has to be room for improvement,” commissioner Harry Cohen said. “That said, my score was a 4.9, which is really the highest I’ve ever gone with anybody.”

Commissioners approved the raise and bonus unanimously, minus Tampa Mayor Jane Castor, who was absent. Castor was also absent for last year’s vote on Anderson’s salary bump.

Those present praised Anderson’s handling of the port’s continued emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as events like Hurricane Ian.

In August, the port received a $12.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to expand a berth at Port Redwing, the latest in a series of growth projects under Anderson’s watch. The port has also diversified its revenue mix by adding amenities like a refrigerated warehouse and capacity for bulk cargo storage.

Last month, Fitch Ratings upgraded the port’s A credit rating from stable to positive on its $79 million in outstanding bonds and notes, indicating it has greater confidence in the port’s financial position. That would put the port in a stronger position to attract institutional investors should it issue additional bonds.

“To our knowledge, it’s the first time in the history of our port that we’ve had an A-positive rating,” Anderson said. “A-stable is very good. A-positive is something we’ve been looking for.”

Anderson isn’t the only local transportation CEO to receive a hefty bonus this fall. In August, the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority authorized a $350,000 bonus for Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano.

Port commissioner Patrick Allman said the bonus was worth it to keep Anderson from eyeing other job opportunities.

“I had to ask myself a question: Where would I rank Paul as a CEO, and in particular in his peer group, as CEO of a port?” Allman said. “What I came up with is I think he’s in the top five. So I think he needs to be compensated as if he’s in the top five.”

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