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Port Canaveral CEO leaving with close to $100,000 in cash

John Walsh became CEO of Port Canaveral in June 2013.
John Walsh became CEO of Port Canaveral in June 2013. (BALDINO /)

John Walsh will leave in just over three months as Port Canaveral's chief executive with a one-time payout worth nearly $100,000, and extended retirement benefits and health insurance.

In return for his voluntary resignation on Jan. 21, the Port Authority commissioners and Walsh worked out a severance package that gives him 20 weeks of salary, health insurance and contributions to his 457B plan, a retirement program used by governmental and certain non-governmental employees, according to severance package documents obtained by GrowthSpotter on Oct. 13.

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The salary component of the package is worth $96,441, and is based on his annual salary of $250,746.60, which Port Canaveral commissioners approved at the end of July.

The 457B will be determined when the Internal Revenue Service gives values for 2016. Currently the value is not to exceed $24,000 per year. This will be prorated when Walsh leaves, according to a port authority spokeswoman.

The 401a retirement is the same as paid to all employees, 10.77 percent of gross amount of salary.

The Health Savings Account is $3,000 per year, and will be prorated when Walsh leaves.

The health insurance coverage value is not known yet because the port is in the bidding processs. For the past year six months it was $11,779.

Walsh also has to give back his company car, a 2014 white Ford Explorer.

Separately, all vacation and sick pay will be given in a lump sum in his last paycheck.

In return, on Jan. 21 at 5 p.m., as specified in the severance documents, Walsh will leave the company he has spent the last two years leading. Until then he is acting with all the authority of a chief executive, with none of his responsibilities impinged upon.

Walsh and the five commission members did not respond to requests for comment about the severance package.

The departure comes after two Port Canaveral commissioners, at the last commission meeting, called for him to be fired, saying he had displayed insensitivity towards the community, its residents and port staff.

The breaking point appears to be when he called opponents of the port's plans for a new rail line "Luddites."

The 23-page severance agreement contains several passages requiring Walsh and Port commission members to not disparage each other. "The parties agree that for consideration provided in this agreement, the parties shall not make any false, disparaging or derogatory statements about each other," the document states.

But, the authority is also waiving its rule against hiring former employees in Walsh's case. For two years from his departure date there could be a teaming "in the event the authority and [Walsh] agree to a mutually acceptable agreement for business consulting services for issues such as cruise, cargo and real estate development," the separation agreement states.

The commissioners are also going to give Walsh a positive letter of recommendation and tell prospective employers that "all reviews indicated performance was above expectations," the severance papers say.

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The Canaveral Port Authority Commission appointed Walsh chief executive in June 2013, after he had served two-and-a-half years as deputy executive director of infrastructure. His background is in real estate development and contracting.

Walsh's initial salary as chief executive was $210,000. It was lifted to $237,900 in June 2014, and then to $250,746.60 in July.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at ktalley@growthspotter.com or (407) 420-5176. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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