Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Florida: Head of Tampa International Airport (KTPA) Joe Lopano in line to get $25,000 raise on top of $300,000 salary package. (With Video)

TAMPA, Florida - A $25,000 raise is in the works for the executive director of the Hillsborough Aviation Authority, Joe Lopano, who already has a $300,000 salary package. The chairman of the Aviation Authority, Steve Burton, told the 10 News Investigators he plans to propose at least a 10 percent raise for Lopano at Thursday's Aviation Authority meeting.

When Lapano was hired, Aviation Authority members like former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio said the contract he was offered was fair. Some might call the contact more than fair as Lopano is receiving a $250,000 salary, plus $49,000 each year toward his 401K and a $500/month car allowance. The $300,000 package is $29,000 more than what former TIA Director Louis Miller is getting to run Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta, the world's busiest airport.

When Lopano was hired, former Aviation Authority Chair Al Austin said, "We feel like we have an excellent new executive director."

Austin, who negotiated the contract, said it was fair, but the new board chair Steve Burton says Lapano exceeds expectations and deserves a raise. Burton will propose at least a 10 percent raise when the board meets Thursday. However, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says this is not the time to be giving at least $25,000 more to Lopano, who he says has a fair contract that he willingly signed.

While Lopano isn't asking for the raise, this is the second incident involving the Aviation Authority executive director that has raised eyebrows and he hasn't been here a year. You may recall earlier this year he proposed executives and board members fly business class instead of coach, but backed down when several said it was wrong in this economy.

And while Lopano has helped spearhead flights to Cuba and is bringing in a direct flight to Switzerland that he is predicting will bring in $32 million a year to the local economy, some in Tampa Bay who would be delighted to earn $25,000 say a raise of that amount is something that they would tell those who run the airport is plain wrong.

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