Economic director’s pay plan a group effort

Published 9:50 am Thursday, February 23, 2017

Warren County’s new economic development director will make an annual salary of $190,000 per year with a car allowance and the potential to receive a year-end bonus based on performance, according to a letter from the Warren County Port Commission to the Board of Supervisors.
The letter was delivered Monday to the board before it voted to hire Pablo Diaz and consolidate the economic development efforts of the county, city, Port Commission and the Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce.
According to the letter, Diaz’s term as economic development director is for three years and can be extended based on the agreement of all the parties involved.
His salary will be paid by the Port Commission, the city and the chamber, with city contributing $20,000 and the chamber $30,000.
Under the agreement between the commission, the city and chamber, the Port Commission will pay the full salary and be reimbursed a total of $50,000 by the city and chamber, commission chairman Margaret Gilmore said.
In addition to his salary, Diaz will receive a $600 per month car allowance.
“We have sufficient funds in the budget to handle his salary and benefits,” she said.
The chamber will also contribute an additional $3,000 to help pay the cost of fringe benefits for Diaz.
Gilmer said the conditions of Diaz’s performance bonus have not been determined.
“We are looking at several different things,” she said. “Some of the things we are considering are based on what we learned from the other candidates we interviewed who told us how their bonuses were paid. We will base it on a national standard.”
According to the letter, the bonus amount will be paid based on what is allowed under state law and describe by two Mississippi Attorney General opinions.
Other parts of the compensation package include:
4 Diaz’s retirement benefits will be provided under the state’s Public Employees Retirement System, with the Port Commission providing 15.75 percent based on his salary and Diaz contributing 9 percent.
4 His health insurance will be provided through Warren County with the Port Commission paying 100 percent of the premium.
4 Three weeks’ vacation a year.
4 The commission will pay the dues and costs for belonging to professional associations and fees for certification classes.
4 Diaz will be provided with a smart phone and laptop computer and will reimburse all appropriate smart phone business use charges as allowed by law.
“This is a big job,” Gilmer said. “We’re going back to the days of Jimmy Heidel, when we had all the organization’s under one person. It worked well and it was successful. As far as I’m concerned, every thing is economic development — tourism, retail and industry.
“We’ve been operating with several different organizations doing economic development and nobody knew what the other one was doing. Now, we have everything under one person,” Gilmer said. “We know who’s doing what.”

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About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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