A high-dollar promotion of a Charleston airport employee has been nixed - at least for now.
Charleston County Aviation Authority Chairman Andy Savage said he "reversed" Airport Director Paul Campbell's decision to promote Executive Assistant Tammy Alexander to director of administration, a move that would have boosted her salary from $65,000 to $100,000.
On the advice of the agency's attorney, Arnold Goodstein, Savage said, "Tammy's unilateral promotion without posting the new position was not done in accordance with our present policies, and it created an unnecessary distraction."
The issue first surfaced last month when Campbell wanted to add Alexander's promotion to a request for 17 new positions - mostly technical or security jobs to handle the upgraded terminal when the $189 million expansion and renovation project is completed in about 13 months.
Savage said he wanted Campbell, who has served as airports director one year this month, to address his proposed staff additions and changes with the Human Resources Committee and the full 13-member board of directors to make sure they were fully vetted.
A special meeting of the board set for July 29 to consider the new hirings and staff change was scuttled at the last minute.
Savage said he met with two board members upset with Campbell's decision before the special meeting and they agreed the best way to handle it was for Savage to set aside Alexander's promotion and Campbell's directive. A third board member also agreed, he said.
"My analysis and that of our attorney was that it was done in contradiction to our bylaws, and I, therefore, reversed that decision," Savage said.
Campbell said he looked forward to explaining the promotion and the other 17 positions to the full board.
"I've only been here a year, so I'm going to stub my toe every now and then," he said. "We delayed it until I could put together the whole presentation. I think the retreat will clear everything up as to what the board does and what staff does."
Campbell called the retreat, tentatively set for sometime in September, an educational process for new and longtime board members as they review policies, bylaws and maybe even the law that set up the agency in 1970.
"That's when we were a little bitty country airport," Campbell said. "We're not that way anymore."
He does not expect the promotion or the new positions to come up at the retreat for a vote. The meeting will be more informational, he said.
In addition to serving as executive assistant to the director, Alexander records the minutes of all committee and board meetings, sets up the meetings and is in charge of contacting board members and the public about them.
Campbell said that in addition to all of her duties, she also has supervisory responsibilities over another employee and oversees the reception desk.
"She's a lot more than an administrative assistant," he said.
Alexander did not return telephone or email messages for comment.
Alexander came to the agency about two years ago and formerly worked in the president's office at the College of Charleston, Campbell said. When she left the college in January 2013, she was earning less than $50,000 and worked in Residence Life as assistant director of housing assignments, according to college spokesman Mike Robertson. She started working at the college in 2010.
Campbell said Alexander is often at work early, stays late and is sometimes there on weekends.
"I try to reward the people who put in extra effort," Campbell said.
The Aviation Authority oversees Charleston International and two smaller airports on Johns Island and in Mount Pleasant.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.
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