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SC ports agency CEO gets $330K bonus after record shipping year

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Jim Newsome (copy)

Jim Newsome is president and CEO of the State Ports Authority. File/Provided

Record cargo volume at the Port of Charleston is translating into big bucks for State Ports Authority executives, with the chance for an even bigger payout a few years away.

The port handled a record 1.36 million cargo containers in fiscal 2019, which ended June 30, and the authority recorded $95 million in operating cash flow for the 12-month period. That beat the goals set by the authority's board of directors, resulting in agency-wide bonuses totaling nearly $3.2 million.

"We had a fabulous year," said David Posek, vice chairman of the board, which approved the bonuses and salaries Thursday.

Jim Newsome, the authority's president and CEO, led the way with a $331,250 bonus combined with a new annual salary of $550,000 — a 3.8 percent raise.

Barbara Melvin, chief operating officer, took home a bonus totaling $134,063 and a salary increase of 4.6 percent to $340,000 annually.

Five other executives split $322,813 in bonus money. 

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The 720 SPA employees who are not a part of the executive team will share in a bonus pool of $2.4 million.

The board also approved a long-term incentive plan that would pay authority employees, including executives, double their bonus in fiscal 2022 if the agency attains operating cash flow of $115 million for that year.

The authority's financial projections show cash flow of $106 million in fiscal 2022, and Posek called beating that by nearly 8.5 percent an "aggressive" goal.

Newsome said the incentive plan is "pretty common in business today" and the higher cash flow figure would help "at a critical time" to start paying off debt that's funding infrastructure improvements at the port.

"And I think it's appropriate also because you really are emphasizing the long-term nature of what we do here," he said. "I think it's in keeping with the focus of running this like a business with strong incentives to a really motivated team."

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_

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