The Cayman Islands Port Authority has terminated the contracts of four senior staff members, according to a brief statement issued Monday by the authority’s acting director.

The employees who were fired were not identified in the statement. However, the Cayman Compass understands three were deputy directors at the agency earning more than $90,000 per year. The fourth terminated employee was the port’s operations and events manager.

Acting Director Joey Woods said the firings took effect under rules that “permitted termination … without cause upon the giving of a certain notice period.”

“In the interests of efficiency, the port authority has had to restructure its resources to meet its challenges and to provide the necessary services to meet customer expectations,” Mr. Woods said in the statement.

Mr. Woods declined to address questions about the status of suspended port director Clement Reid in his statement Monday. Mr. Reid was suspended in May amid an internal investigation at the port. He was not one of the terminated employees referenced the Monday statement.

A review done by the Cayman Islands Auditor General’s Office in late 2017 and presented to the Port Authority board in January this year raised a number of issues about hiring at the agency, including that a number of new senior management positions were created– putting the port well over budget for the 2016/17 year.

Auditor General Sue Winspear’s office highlighted concerns about the port hiring decisions made between late 2016 and 2017.

For instance, a deputy director for human resources was paid at a salary scale above the advertised range of $88,000 to $125,000 per year for a post that did not originally exist in the port’s 2016/17 budget. The person holding that position was terminated on Friday, the Cayman Compass has learned.

The individual declined to make a statement when contacted by the Compass Monday.

Another port employee was promoted to deputy director/chief logistics officer without the position being advertised and at a higher salary than the range typically used for port deputy directors. This position also did not exist within the 2016/17 budget, auditors found.

A manager for operations and events was hired without an interview process, and the successful candidate was not required to submit medical exam forms or police clearances, as is normal practice.

Another port employee was promoted to deputy director/chief operating officer with no notification or internal advertising for the job. It is understood that employee was also among the port workers terminated via the announcement made by Mr. Woods.

The auditors’ report noted additional issues with a Port Authority manager who received a salary increase of $21,000 per year after completing the probationary period on the job, putting the overall salary well in excess of the position’s advertised pay.

An office manager hired in 2016 was paid above the advertised salary range, but quit the job just two months later. This led to a situation where another person was recruited, at a higher salary, without the job being advertised. This was done without consulting the port’s human resources manager, auditors said.

Suspended director

Mr. Reid did not respond to Cayman Compass questions about the terminations Monday. However, he did respond earlier in the year to the auditor general’s report in a statement made to the Port Authority board.

Mr. Reid said at the time that he still believed the new hires came within the approved budget for the agency, and that he and had no reason to believe otherwise.

“On Aug. 31, 2017, the [port] chief financial officer presented his own authored August financial report to the board,” Mr. Reid wrote in his statement to the board. “The contents are entirely consistent with the facts as I represented and believed them to be. At no time did the chief financial officer alert me as to whether there were any errors or inaccuracies in his monthly reports.”

Auditors said the $1.9 million provided in the budget for Port Authority hiring covered 18 months between July 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2017, because the government was operating an unusual 18-month, one-time budget during the period.

The provided budget increase for the new employees was actually $1.3 million on an annual basis, auditors said. Yet the port’s projected annual cost for the new employees it hired during 2016/17 was around $1.7 million, including healthcare and pension allotments.

“This amount exceeds the budgeted annual increase by $400,000 per year,” the audit office report noted.

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