TAMPA — Port Tampa Bay president and CEO Paul Anderson is getting his fifth straight rating of "outstanding" in his annual performance review, though a couple of his bosses want to see better leadership in light of embarrassing news reports about questionable spending.
Under port policies, that rating automatically put Anderson on track for a 4.5 percent raise — a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment, plus a 3 percent raise for port employees rated outstanding on their evaluations. With the raise, Anderson's salary is $417,917 a year.
Anderson, hired in December 2012, received an overall score of 4.7 on a scale of 1 through 5. Six of seven board members gave him composite scores of 4.5 to 4.9 after evaluating him in 11 areas, including business and finance, leadership, economic development, environmental management and safety and security.
"Great leader," board member Carl Lindell Jr. wrote.
"Paul has done an excellent job as the CEO of the port, which is reflected in the record revenues that we achieved in 2017," board member Gregory Celestan wrote.
During the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the port posted its biggest operating revenues ever — $55.4 million — with growth in cruise ship business, commodity shipments and space leased to businesses.
In addition, Anderson noted in his own self-evaluation that state and federal grants have grown, and the port's economic impact has gone from $15.2 billion in 2013 to $17.5 billion today.
"We have moved the needle substantially over the past five years in our brand, reputation and awareness of our port," he wrote.
Anderson got his lowest rating — a composite score of 4 out of 5 — and most pointed comments from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
"Clearly, the events of the last year, and the adverse coverage of a culture that needed significant improvement contributed to my assessment," Buckhorn wrote.
In June, ABC Action News reported that port executives had charged the port $30,000 for golf club memberships and outings, thousands for season tickets to the Tampa Bay Lightning and more than $36,000 for meals at restaurants such as Ulele and the Columbia.
"It was not the port's finest hour nor is it a chapter that anyone should be proud of," Buckhorn said. "Hopefully, moving forward the appropriate steps have been taken and Mr. Anderson will lead by example."
In August, Gov. Rick Scott appointed Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce chairman Mike Griffin to the port's board, saying the news reports concerned him and suggesting stronger policies "to prevent wasteful spending by employees."
Two weeks later, the board banned its staff from charging golf club memberships or Lightning season tickets.
It also hired an outside auditor to scrutinize expenses, tightened requirements for documenting travel expenses and required employees to attend training about the new policy.
Port officials said some of the overspending, including for dining out, has been reimbursed. The reimbursements included about $13,599 from Anderson and $11,151 from Ed Miyagishima, who left a job as the port's former vice president of communications and external affairs in March. Other employees reimbursed the port for expenses that were significantly smaller.
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Celestan wrote in his review of Anderson that he "was impressed by how Paul quickly reacted to the shortfalls identified in our internal financial oversight and rectified the problem."
Griffin, the new board member, gave Anderson a 2 ("needs improvement") for business, finance and customer relations.
Changes to expense policies should have been made "prior to any external scrutiny," Griffin said. Generally, however, he concluded he was "optimistic we will continue to raise the bar even further together under Mr. Anderson's leadership."
Contact Richard Danielson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times