The Tampa Port Authority will pay its next port director $350,000 a year, more than $80,000 above the previous director's salary.
The port authority on Tuesday unanimously approved an employment contract for Paul Anderson, who is the outgoing chief executive of the Jacksonville Port Authority. His base salary will be $81,500 more than former director Richard Wainio, who made $268,500.
At that rate of pay, Anderson will be among the highest-paid local officials. He'll receive more than Tampa International Airport Chief Executive Officer Joe Lopano, who makes $315,000, and less than University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft, whose base salary is $470,000.
Port board members said Anderson's deep experience in Florida ports, as well as his contacts in Washington, D.C., command a significant salary.
Board Chairman William "Hoe" Brown said Anderson will use his many industry contacts to expand importing and exporting at the Port of Tampa and, the board hopes, help create jobs.
"He brings a whole new set of skills," Brown said.
Board member Carl Lindell said Anderson was by far the best candidate for the job.
"He's just got a lot of good stuff on his resume, and in an operation the size of the port, a couple extra dollars isn't a lot to get the right guy," Lindell said.
At the Port of Tampa, Anderson will head a government agency with operating revenue of about $45 million. It receives about $11 million a year in taxes from Hillsborough County property owners, all of which goes toward capital improvement projects. The bulk of its money, though, comes from the fees and rents paid by its users.
The port generally is in good financial health, but some board members and major port tenants have been frustrated that its volume of cargo has been relatively flat in recent years.
Port Authority board members hope Anderson's mix of experience and business and political contacts can help boost its cargo and international trade. Anderson was an official with the Federal Maritime Commission, which regulates shipping, in President George W. Bush's administration.
He also is former president of a Boca Raton-based shipping company and helped lead the campaign finance team of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Anderson has been port director since 2010 in Jacksonville, where he was paid $320,000 a year. With his new salary of $350,000, he will receive significantly more than Wainio did as the Tampa port director and more even than PortMiami director Bill Johnson, who is paid $262,351.
Tampa Port Authority board member Sandy Murman, who also is a Hillsborough County commissioner, said, "Today signals a day of beginning."
"We don't want to stay stagnant, which is kind of what we've done over the last few years," Murman said.
Arthur Savage, chief executive of a Tampa-based transportation services firm, was on the Port Authority's executive search committee and ranked Anderson No. 1 among the applicants.
Anderson knows Florida's port system and knows how to use the state's political system to the port's advantage, Savage said.
"Whether the salary's worth it or not depends on the results he gets," he said.