The Cayman Islands government is searching for a new leader at its port authority operation, but the successful candidate will be taking quite a pay decrease compared with the current director’s salary.
Advertisements went out Friday for the post of Cayman Islands port director seeking a candidate with a bachelors or masters degree in business or finance with 10 years senior executive experience managing an organization with more than 100 employees and a budget of more than $10 million.
The salary range for the position is advertised at between $123,000 and $173,000.
Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell told the Legislative Assembly last year that the current annual salary range for the port director was between $180,000 and $204,000.
The issue arose after North Side MLA Ezzard Miller raised questions about the pay scales for some directors at government statutory authorities and publicly-owned companies, including the port, Cayman Airways and the Cayman Islands Airports Authority.
“It is somewhat shocking to me to find out … that these people are paid more than the premier,” Mr. Miller said. Premier Alden McLaughlin’s annual salary is about $160,000 per year.
Premier McLaughlin has raised his own concerns about the management issues surrounding certain government-owned companies and statutory authorities.
“There are those who will say otherwise, but my view of [the creation of the statutory authorities and government companies] is that, by and large, that has not saved the government money,” Mr. McLaughlin said last year. “If you look at the salaries paid to statutory authorities and government companies compared to those in central government … you would be astounded. There are those in statutory authorities that earn more than the governor, let alone me or the deputy governor.
“We do not believe the statutory authorities and government companies can operate completely outside what obtains in the country and in the [central] government particularly. I think there is the mind-set in some of those who control these entities that they are a completely independent entity, doing whatever they want. That’s not the case at all.”
Although his government contract is not due to expire until May, the Cayman Islands Port Authority’s current managing director, Paul Hurlston, has been shown the door by the board of directors. An acting director has been appointed in the interim.
Mr. Hurlston was put on “gardening leave” – not reporting to the office, but still being paid – in mid-February until the end of his contract on May 21, port chairman Errol Bush confirmed. Mr. Bush said a letter informing Mr. Hurlston of the board’s decision was delivered to him during a February meeting. “It was contemplated [previously] that we would do this, but we just wanted to wait until after the Christmas break,” Mr. Bush said.
The port chairman told the Cayman Compass in December of the board’s decision not to renew the current managing director’s six-year contract, which was approved in the waning hours of the former People’s Progressive Movement government administration.
“His contract was not an open contract. It ends in May 2015,” Mr. Bush said at the time. “He has to give us notice of his interest to renew. [The board], in turn, has to give him notice of our interest [in continuing the contract]. We did not want to renew his contract.”
Mr. Hurlston has never returned calls or emails from the Compass seeking comment about the situation, but wrote a letter to the newspaper after the fact. In addition, the Compass is in possession of an unsigned letter sent to the port board in February in which staff members said they faced “hostility” from members of the board.
According to the Feb. 11 staff letter: “It would appear that the board … has already, and perhaps for some length of time, identified substantial ‘inefficiencies, risks and weaknesses’ in the current daily operations of the port, and has already determined, prior to the inception of your proposed Deloitte review that these deficiencies exist mainly due to ‘the current organizational structure.’
“There are a number of other departments, authorities, etc., amongst the branches of government that arguably and demonstrably are in more need of serious adjustments in the same areas that you have vaguely but persistently stated/hinted at in this and previous communications to us and the general public via the press.
“We are somewhat perturbed, puzzled and perplexed by the board’s seemingly guarded hostility towards our establishment … and in particular it seems, towards the sitting management.”
Port chairman Mr. Bush told the Compass in December that the authority had hired Deloitte via a tendering process to perform what he termed an “organizational review” at the authority, aimed at “getting us back on better financial footing.”
Deloitte issued the job advertisement for a new director on behalf of the port authority on Friday.