Airport director gets $33K pay boost

Campbell

The Charleston County Aviation Authority’s top staffer is getting a nice bump in pay. He’s also getting some advice on how to do his job better such as minimizing disparaging comments about employees and board members.

The 11-member board of directors that oversees Charleston International Airport voted unanimously Thursday to boost Paul Campbell’s pay 17.2 percent to $225,000.

Campbell, 69, signed on with the agency in August 2013 at a salary of $192,000. His predecessor, Sue Stevens, earned just over $211,000 when she resigned in July 2013.

“Mr. Director, you have a damn good evaluation,” airport board Chairman Andy Savage said.

“During the past two years, the director’s overall performance has been superior given the environment at the time he undertook his responsibilities,” according to the seven-page evaluation.

Savage said Campbell did not receive an evaluation after his first year because of the turmoil that ensued after Stevens left and he wanted to give Campbell, a state senator and former Alcoa executive, time to prove himself.

Stevens’ departure came just ahead of work on the $189 million expansion and renovation of the airport terminal. Her resignation left borrowing to pay for the construction in question, but that was worked out. The turbulence ended a year later with an out-of-court settlement after Stevens threatened to sue over gender discrimination by certain members of what was at the time an all-male board.

In the evaluation, the board said Campbell must stop talking negatively about employees and board members and use encouragement and supportive ideas, end the “have” and “have not” perceptions among employees, and respond to board members’ inquiries more timely.

Campbell said he is unsure what prompted those recommendations, but looked forward to talking with board members for some clarity.

The board also recommended Campbell develop a succession plan by September, create a strategic plan for the growing airport, communicate better with board members, be aware of low employee morale caused by perceived unfair treatment by management, and initiate a hotline so employees can talk with the director or chairman anonymously and confidentially about concerns.

“Overall, I thought it was a good evaluation,” Campbell said. “It recognized some strengths and some areas I need to improve on. I wouldn’t have given me that good of an evaluation.”

As for the pay increase, he said, “I didn’t take the job for the salary. I took it for public service.”

Though the evaluation points out the need for a succession plan, Campbell said he has no plans to retire.

“As long as I’m making the airport better and helping the citizens of the Lowcountry, I’ll be right here,” he said.

The Aviation Authority generate its own revenue. It also receives federal grants.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.