The State Ports Authority board Tuesday approved pay increases ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 a year for its top managers, saying the higher salaries are needed to stay competitive with neighboring ports.

Looking inland

The inland port proposed for the Upstate also was on the State Ports Authority’s agenda Tuesday. The board approved authorizing the agency to borrow no more than $30 million for the development, construction, operation and maintenance of the project, which is in the planning stages and is expected to open by fall 2013.The Greer facility is a container yard served by Norfolk Southern rail carrier for major port users in the Upstate and in portions of neighboring states. The SPA board previously had approved engineering work and authorized CEO Jim Newsome to carry out all actions needed to complete the project.The inland port site is on land the SPA owns near the BMW plant in Spartanburg County.

President and CEO Jim Newsome received the biggest raise, which bumped his salary up 5.7 percent to $370,000.

“We make these decisions based on how well we are making progress to the goals set and objectives with cargo growth and infrastructure development and etcetra,” said board member David Posek. “We take a look at our local competition north and south and what various positions pay and we make sure we are at least competitive with that.”

Raises also were approved for six other port executives who report directly to Newsome. The next top earner is sales chief Paul McClintock, whose salary rose to $245,000 from $235,000.

The SPA noted that its senior compensation remains well below that for comparable positions at its closest rival, the Georgia Ports Authority.

Newsome joined the SPA in September 2009 earning $300,000 annually. In November 2011 the board awarded him a seven-year contract and a $50,000 pay increase.

He also is eligible for annual performance bonuses equal to up to 30 percent of his pay.

The raises came as Newsome reported that container traffic at the Port of Charleston increased nearly 12 percent in November compared to the same month a year ago.

Last month the Port of Charleston handled the equivalent of 125,780 20-foot-long containers. Volume is up 11.7 percent jump since the agency’s fiscal year began in July. Container growth is up 9 percent for the calendar year.

The added volume is thanks in part to new routes to areas such as Australia and New Zealand.

Hamburg Sud, one of the world’s top-20 container shipping lines, this year pulled its only call at the Port of Savannah to the Port of Charleston to serve those countries.

“While we are slightly off of aggressive projections set for the year thus far, Charleston continues to grow at a much faster rate than competing ports,” Newsome said. “With global economic uncertainty on the horizon, we will continue to operate in the fiscally conservative way we have, which has kept intact our stable outlook and solid position from the ratings agencies.”

John McDermott of The Post and Courier contributed to this report.

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.