''I know people may drop their toast in their cereal when they read that,'' Paul Moore said. ''But I'm not embarrassed by my compensation.
''I've worked very hard and been very successful in this business,'' he said. ''This is a life's work for me that has purchased 60 to 80 hours [a week] of my time for all of my working life.''
The Deseret Morning News, citing public tax filings and interviews, found the Great Salt Lake Council had 23 executives making more than $50,000 in 2005, tied for No. 2 with the National Capitol Area Council around Washington, D.C.
The Utah National Parks Council in Orem had 14 employees making more than $50,000. Thomas Powell, recently retired, was paid $161,413.
The Trapper Trails Council in Ogden has 13 people making more than $50,000, according to director Rick Barnes, who is paid more than $120,000.
Moore, Barnes and Powell were paid more than leaders of other local youth groups. Elaine Gause, chief executive of the Utah Girl Scouts, received $100,692 in compensation in 2005, the Deseret Morning News reported Sunday.
Scout leaders said their salaries are higher because their organizations are larger and their jobs require longer hours and more skills.
''When people asked what I do, I said name any 10 careers and a Scout executive touches them,'' Powell said.
It includes being an educator, human-relations director, salesman, promoter, organizer, disciplinarian - ''and sometimes a security guard, a plumber, a custodian or a garbage man if that is what the job requires,'' he said.
The Orem, Great Salt Lake and Ogden councils are ranked in the top five in the number of boys enrolled in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Varsity and Venturing programs.
Utah's leading religion, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, puts much emphasis on Scouting.
Wiping away tears during an interview, Moore was worried that public disclosure of compensation could hurt fundraising efforts and other activities.
Scouting ''is a treasured part of this community, and I would hate to think that my compensation damages in any way our ability to make a difference in kids' lives,'' he said. ''But I realize this is part of what goes with the territory.''