Forward Pinellas executive director earns pay raise

Forward Pinellas Executive Director Whit Blanton

CLEARWATER — Forward Pinellas Executive Director Whit Blanton will receive a 3% pay raise, the same as other county employees, and he will get a boost to his travel budget, starting July 1.

Blanton has served as executive director since 2015. Part of his salary has included $125 a month for expenses for travel within District 7, which includes Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Blanton also can ask for reimbursement of expenses for travel outside the district.

Forward Pinellas’ executive committee recommended an increase of Blanton’s travel allowance to $250 a month, as well as a 3% pay raise, increasing his annual salary from $168,979 to $170,476. The board of directors unanimously approved both measures June 12 as part of a discussion of Blanton’s annual performance review.

“Whit continues to do a really, really good job,” said Forward Pinellas Chair Dave Eggers, adding that his score had improved for the third year in a row.

Blanton’s overall average score from all 13 board members was 3.7 out of 4, up from 3.5 last year.

In the category of partnerships, he received an average score of 3.6, the same as 2018 and 2017. He received a 3.8 for external communications, up from 3.6 last year, and he got a 3.8 for internal communications and reporting, up from 3.5 last year.

He received an average of 3.6 for leadership effectiveness and for fiscal management; both were improvements from the 3.5 he received last year.

Some of the comments about Blanton’s greatest strengths included “being able to pull all governmental agencies together for a cause,” “calm demeanor, willingness to listen,” and “his ability to work with individual communities on agency planning items.”

Constructive recommendations included comments about working on internal communication and enhancing employee accessibility. Expectations for the next rating period include working on transportation planning, funding and implementation of transportation improvements.

In other business the board, sitting as the metropolitan planning organization:

• Unanimously approved adoption of the fiscal year 2019-2020 through FY 2023-2024 transportation improvement program.

• Unanimously approved annual adoption of transportation priorities.

In other business the board, sitting as the Pinellas Planning Council:

• Unanimously approved advertising of a public hearing on July 10, 1 p.m., in the fifth floor assembly room of the Pinellas County Courthouse, 318 Court St., Clearwater. The hearing will consider draft countywide plan strategies and draft countywide rules.

Forward Pinellas is a land use and transportation planning agency that includes the functions of the Pinellas Planning Council and the Metropolitan Planning Organization. For more information, visit forwardpinellas.org.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.

Revised to include Blanton's salary amount.