Ford Airport CEO’s resignation includes big payday

Kent County
former ford airport ceo james gill 113018_1543590258265.jpg.jpg

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — When the Chief Executive Officer of the Gerald R. Ford International Airport suddenly resigned in November, airport leaders were tight-lipped.

But Target 8 has learned it came with a big payday.

It took a public records request filed by Target 8 to learn about the severance deal for James Gill Sr.

It showed that Gill, who was paid $267,500 a year at the Ford, got six months’ salary for leaving.

That’s $133,750, about $25,000 less than the annual set salary for Michigan’s governor.

But airport officials still aren’t saying anything about the reason for his resignation, other than it was for personal reasons.

His resignation followed a survey of airport employees.

But airport leaders denied Target 8’s public records request for the survey, saying it was done by a third party and that they didn’t have a copy “per se.”

The airport paid for the survey.

When asked how much the survey cost or if they could provide a report on the survey results, they said they couldn’t without another Freedom of Information Act request. That is pending.

Gill started as CEO in January 2017 and was in charge of day-to-day operations.

In February, the Airport Board Authority went into closed session to discuss Gill’s personnel review, at Gill’s request, according to minutes of the board meeting. Details were not available.

While accepting his resignation in November, airport leaders praised him for his work as the Ford continued to grow, setting passenger records.

Target 8 spoke briefly with Gill, reaching him where he was living at Woodland Creek apartments in Kentwood. He said only that he left on his own for other opportunities.

He could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

The airport board appointed Chief Financial Officer Brian Picardat as interim CEO.

Gill will work as a consultant for the airport as it conducts a national search for a permanent replacement.

Target 8 reached out to Airport Authority Board Chairman Dan Koorndyk but did not hear back from him. Another member of the board refused to comment.

**Correction: A previous version of this story said Gill was paid using taxpayer dollars. That was not correct, as the airport is funded by user fees. We regret the error.**

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