The Cayman Islands Port Authority Board of Directors was “generally displeased” with the actions of its managing director, but not displeased enough to terminate his employment, according to correspondence released by the authority.
Port Managing Director Clement Reid was given a warning letter on Feb. 21, following the release of an auditor general’s review to the port board that identified a number of “irregularities” in the agency’s hiring practices along with other areas of concern. Those other areas included a suspected theft of boat engines that was not reported to police, and the assignment of an employee to accompany a member of the Legislative Assembly during out-of-town trips.
“The board wishes to advise you that it is generally displeased to have discovered the matters raised by the [auditor general’s] report, in particular … the manner in which you have unnecessarily created new positions and hired new staff at excessive salary rates in excess of the advertised salary ranges,” the Feb. 21 letter sent to Mr. Reid read.
“The board is of the view that your conduct is tantamount to gross or serious misconduct in the course of your employment, which would justify the board in summarily dismissing you without notice,” the letter continued.
However, the board stated, following a detailed presentation by Mr. Reid explaining his actions in relation to the various matters raised in the auditor’s report, that it would not adopt “such a draconian course” as terminating the director’s appointment.
Rather, board members issued the written warning, essentially stating that if similar misconduct was seen in the future, a termination of employment would occur.
Mr. Reid was given a month to “commence performing duties in a satisfactory manner” and has now been kept on beyond that point.
“The board has taken into account your long tenure with the port authority, your detailed written responses to the [auditor general’s] report and willingness to meet the board at short notice on Feb. 15, 2018, your alacrity in acknowledging that mistakes were made by you, and your evident commitment to do your job to the best of your ability,” the port letter of warning further stated.
A number of “preliminary recommendations” were made by the board in February, including the reduction of deputy director positions following the 2016/17 budget hiring spree and a detailed description of the jobs held by each senior employee stating what roles they perform.
Auditors have further revealed that the current complement of port staff salaries is estimated to be $400,000 over budget for 2018.
The board also suggested that port staff start keeping time sheets to record what work they are doing each day.
Those time sheets would be reviewed by a subcommittee tasked with resolving the port’s “human resources problem.” The subcommittee members were named as Customs Collector Charles Clifford, Richard Parchment and Ken Thompson.
Port Authority managers told Auditor General Sue Winspear in January that the new hires cost only $1.1 million during the 2016/17 fiscal period – far less than the budget provided.
Auditors said last week that port managers were apparently looking at the wrong numbers.
“Based on the 2017 [annual] budget, the expected increase in payroll cost was $1.3 million,” the audit office noted in a follow-up report issued Friday. “Based on [employment] contracts entered into, that amount was $1.7 million … and all budgeted posts were not filled.”
The annual costs for the new staff went about $400,000 over budget. However, auditors said many of the port’s new hires during 2017 did not work the full 12 months of the year, making it appear that the agency had a “cash savings” during the year.