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Quiz: Of the following occupations, who makes the highest salary in Utah a typical law professor, psychiatrist, corporate CEO or the chief of the local Boy Scout council?
State data show the average salary of psychiatrists in Utah is $144,050; of law professors, $142,810; and of chief executives, $130,790.
Rick Barnes, Scout executive of the Great Salt Lake Council, received compensation last year of $176,336 ($155,613 in salary and $20,723 in benefits), according to new council tax forms that by law are open to public inspection. Before the 2010 forms were filed, the Scouts earlier this year declined to provide current salary data for Tribune stories about the Friends of Scouting fund drive.
Last week, the council's newsletter bemoaned those earlier stories and offered reasons for its sometimes high staff salaries. And Barnes, in an interview while The Tribune examined tax forms, noted that executives at similarly sized councils elsewhere are paid more. He says his council has been working hard to hold down spending and salaries here in tough times while erasing debts.
"It concerns me that there is controversy over the funding of our great council," Charles Dahlquist II, the council's president and the former Young Men's organization president of the LDS Church, wrote in the newsletter noting concerns caused by news stories looking at fundraising and salaries.
So he explained why some salaries are high. "This job is too important to have anyone less than the best. As a result, we are willing to compensate that individual in a competitive manner."
Dahlquist added: "There are many individuals who could fill that position for less money, but the selections committee [of the council's board of directors] focuses on people who will help us provide the best possible Scouting program to our council. Our youth are too important to settle for second best."
Barnes who was hired in 2009 said he has worked in Scouting for 32 years around the nation and led several other councils, including one in Rapid City, S.D., and the Ogden-based Trapper Trails Council.
Besides Barnes, tax forms show that three other council staffers were given more than $100,000 in compensation last year.
They are Steven Luna, a support services director, paid $139,953 ($121,745 in salary and $18,208 in benefits); Kay Godfrey, also a support services director, paid $116,136 ($102,616 in salary and $13,520 in benefits); and Brian Sheets, chief financial officer, paid $104,365 ($89,531 in salary and $14,834 in benefits).
Elsewhere in Utah, new tax forms show that the Orem-based Utah National Parks Council gives its Scout executive, Steven Royster, annual compensation of $175,492 (slightly less than Barnes), and pays Ronald Nyman, its director of field services, $109,948.
The Ogden-based Trapper Trails Council does not pay any of its staff more than $100,000 a year. The compensation for its top Scout executive, Michael Marchese, is $88,596, according to new 2010 tax forms.
While local Scout salaries may seem high, Barnes noted that salaries in other councils of similar size are actually higher and that is backed by a Tribune analysis of salaries for 2008, the last year for which tax forms nationally are widely available online.
It showed that the median salary for top Scout executives in such councils was $225,908, meaning all the salaries in Utah are lower.
The highest in the nation for similarly sized councils was $383,488 for Paul Moore of the Los Angeles Area Council. He headed the Great Salt Lake Council in Salt Lake City before Barnes and was compensated $228,174 annually before he left here in 2008.
Top national leaders make even more. In 2009, Robert Mazzuca, the national Scout executive, received $1.2 million $1.05 million in salary and $159,387 in benefits. Tax forms show that the national headquarters of the Scouts in Texas pays 189 executives more than $100,000 compensation a year.
Such spending has helped generate criticism.
"The local [Utah] salaries now are lower than what Moore was making when he was here, and they are lower than many other places," said Kenny Thomas, of Herriman, a critic who launched a website looking at Scouting salaries and high-pressure fundraising. He was released as an LDS ward Young Men's president in September after just four months for criticizing local Friends of Scouting drives.
"My problem is they say they pay big salaries to attract top talent. But they hire just from within Scouting itself. It's not like they hire someone from an outside corporation or nonprofit. It's filled only by those who move up the ranks within BSA," he said. "At the lower level, they don't pay that well. But people take that in hopes of moving up to those more highly paid positions."
Barnes said his council has worked to hold down costs including paying him less than his predecessor. He said he also chose not to have a car provided for him, as Moore did, and chose not to move from Morgan County so the council would not need to pay moving costs. The council also cut 13 full-time positions after he arrived in 2009 and has cut some employee benefits.
In part, Barnes said that was because he found when he arrived that the council was $1.2 million in debt caused by spending its full budget as the recession hit without raising the budgeted revenues. He said the council is on target to retire the debt at the end of this year.
Barnes said the council also lowered its camping fees over the past two years. He said it initially had raised them to try to retire its debt but found that only led to fewer people using its camps. When rates were lowered, he said, more came, bringing in more money.
Tribune stories mentioning salaries hurt the council's fundraising, said Barnes, adding he tries to answer personally any concerns about fundraising and salaries.
"I'm not a king. I'm a servant," he said.