Port officials give Diaz raise, contract extension

Published 8:00 pm Monday, November 12, 2018

Warren County port commissioners have approved a raise for port director Pablo Diaz and extended his contract through March 2024.

Diaz’s raise and contract extension were approved by the Port Commission at a special meeting Monday. The 7.38 percent raise increases Diaz’s yearly salary from $190,000 to $204,022. Diaz’s contract was to have expired in 2020.

“We think he’s done a great job; the community thinks he’s done a great job,” commissioner Don Brown said. “We’ve had EDF (Economic Development Foundation) up and going, people are contributing to that and looking at other things we can do to build up our economic development, and of course they are concerned about the availability and sustainability of what we’re doing.”

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

With other communities looking for quality economic development directors, Brown said, “We know if you’ve got a good person, you’ve got to try to do what it takes to hold on to him and you can’t wait until the last minute.”

Brown said he and commission chairman Margaret Gilmer met with Board of Supervisors president Richard George and Supervisors John Carlisle, Charles Selmon and William Banks to let them know the commission wanted to extend Diaz’s contract and resolve the issue of Diaz’s bonus he was to receive under his contract but the supervisors refused to pay.

“The major thing was the extension, and we talked about wanting to move forward with that so we could assure the folks contributing to economic development that we would have a man who would be here that they would be pleased with,” Brown said.

Brown said he and Gilmer held several meetings with the four supervisors to answer questions and discuss specifics with the extension, adding there was an agreement on the contract and the bonus would be taken from the contract and replaced with a raise.

“We were communicating, and that’s what they wanted,” Brown said, adding the supervisors were told the commission was going forward with the raise and extension, and both would be effective immediately.

Supervisor unaware

Contacted Monday, George said he was unaware the commission was going to extend Diaz’s contract and raise his salary.

“Don’t know anything about it,” he said. “Nothing at all; I thought today was a holiday.”

He said he had met with Brown and Gilmer.

“They mentioned two or three different things,” he said, “But I hadn’t heard anything about this being in whatever stage it’s at; don’t know anything more about it. (They) were supposed to get back and never did.

“They’d been talking about it for a bit; they decided to what they wanted to do. I don’t know. I have no idea, because I thought the governmental entities was declared a state holiday,” George said.

Diaz, who was serving as economic developer for Grenada, was hired as Warren County economic development director in 2017 on a three-year contract. Besides serving as port director, he also serves as the county’s economic development director and executive director of the Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce.

His salary is 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 pays the full salary and is reimbursed a total of $50,000 by the city and chamber.

Under his contract, Diaz was supposed to receive a bonus equivalent to 20 percent of his salary, or $38,000, for meeting certain goals and benchmarks involving bringing in new industry and retaining present industries. Gilmer said he met and exceeded the goals.

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.

email author More by John