A debate over pay for nonprofit executives has flared up again in York County government, this time with the York County Food Bank at the center of the controversy.
President Commissioner Steve Chronister on Wednesday voted to table a contract with the food bank because of its director's compensation, listed at more than $180,000 per year.
The contract was to authorize the food bank to distribute food given to the county from the federal government. The year-long agreement was retroactive; the food bank had been distributing the food since October, said Jessica Mockabee, deputy director of the York County Human Services Department.
Commissioners Doug Hoke and Chris Reilly voted to approve the contract, but Chronister said he wanted to table the measure until there could be an investigation. Chronister said he took exception with salaries at the organization, but he was outvoted and the measure passed.
It was the second time Chronister raised such objections, the first being during budget talks last year when he said organizations that pay their executives more than about $120,000 per year maybe shouldn't be asking the county for donations from taxpayer money.
Compensation: York County Food Bank executive director Jonathan Fisher was paid $182,666 in 2010 and $185,648 in 2011, according to Form 990 schedules filled out by the organizations for those years. That's more than three times the $55,000 per year his father, Fred Fisher, was making as executive director before he retired in 2009.
Chronister said it's the county board's responsibility to track how some nonprofit money is being spent.
"Some people say, 'OK, it's not taxpayer money,' but it is," Chronister said. "(Taxpayers) pay state and federal taxes, and it all comes out of their pockets. If I look away from issues like this, then I'm not doing my job."
The organization gets government grants and contracts and accepts contributions.
But Jonathan Fisher and the president of the York County Food Bank's board of directors said the Form 990 actually reflects two one-time retirement benefit contributions, though they're not listed as such in the documents.
The 2010 form shows $182,666 in "base compensation" and lists nothing under retirement compensation. The next year, the form shows $63,070 in base compensation and $122,578 in "bonus and incentive compensation." Jonathan Fisher said the payments were recorded that way because of technicalities in the way he was paid.
After he worked 23 years at the food bank with no retirement package, the board undertook a study to determine a fair amount of annual compensation for an executive's retirement, he said. The board settled on about $9,200 per year, more than $210,000, and decided to pay the retroactive amount in two annual installments, he said.
He said his annual pay is $63,070, and the 2012 Form 990 will reflect that amount plus only one year of the $9,200 in retirement money.
Jonathan Fisher said he would have explained that to Chronister, but "he never gave me the opportunity."
President's statement: Mike Cramer is president of the food bank's board of directors.
"It was a unanimous board decision," Cramer said of the vote to pay the retroactive money for retirement. "He had worked for the food bank since his father started it 30 years ago and had no kind of retirement package at all. It was a board decision. We went up to Jon and said, 'Why are you not getting retirement? As a board, we said he should be paid for the 23 years prior so he could invest in his own 401K or whatever. He has to pay taxes on it, so I guess that's why it came up as salary."
But Chronister said he's still skeptical, and he thinks the Internal Revenue Service should investigate.