In recent years, top executives at the Dayton Development Coalition received sizable bonuses even as governments that help fund the organization were cutting budgets and making staff cuts in the bad economy.
Bonus payments for last year’s performance have not been awarded by the coalition’s compensation committee, according to Jeff Hoagland, the current chief executive and coalition president. But in 2012, Hoagland received a $48,970 bonus, nearly 24 percent of his $207,737 in base pay. That brought his total compensation to $281,421, which includes base pay, bonus, retirement, deferred compensation and other non-taxable benefits, according to the coalition’s federal tax forms show.
Hoagland said he declined to accept an increase in his base salary that year.
The bonuses were even higher in previous years. In 2010, then coalition chief executive Jim Leftwich received a bonus of $71,697 — more than 31 percent of his base pay, according to the non-profit’s tax forms. To oversee the coalition’s 26 staff members Leftwich received $316,677 in total compensation.
Such large bonuses are hard to swallow, said Dayton Assistant City Manager Shelley Dickstein.
“To pay somebody 25 percent of their salary just because they did the work they were supposed to be doing for their salary never seems to line up well, and it certainly doesn’t line up well with the public sector,” she said.
As a city commissioner in 2010, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley sharply criticized the bonus payments, saying they were inappropriate given the tough decisions local governments were facing.
In an interview last week, Whaley said she is concerned that publicly funded non-profits like the coalition pay so much more than the public sector.
“Am I a fan of it? I’m not crazy about it, but it’s happening everywhere with these organizations,” she said.
By comparison, Dayton City Manager Tim Riordan has made about $152,000 annually since taking the job in 2009, Whaley said. His first raise, 1.6 percent, was last year. He has not received bonuses.
The newspaper examined compensation data reported on federal tax forms filed by the Dayton Development Coalition and its two affiliates from 2004 to 2012. Beginning in 2008, the forms show separate categories for bonus payments paid to executives, in addition to their base pay. Forms from 2013 are not yet available.
Bonuses are not just given to the top executive. In recent years lower ranking executives have typically received about $25,000 in bonus payments annually, according to the Internal Revenue Service tax forms. Only the top five or six highest-paid employees’ compensation must be reported to the IRS, so it’s not possible to examine bonuses awarded to other employees.
Coalition officials say that the bonuses are paid from private funds, and not the 60 percent of revenue that comes from the public. Supporters also say private development groups like the coalition use bonuses to attract talent.
“In the private sector, bonuses are a great way to incentivize and motivate and make sure your stretch goals are met,” said Bryan Bucklew, chief executive and president of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association. “I can’t comment on the appropriateness of the bonuses, but I think they are a fact of life.”
Bucklew serves as a board member overseeing the coalition’s two affiliates but is not involved in compensation decisions.
Total compensation to the six highest-paid coalition employees in 2012 was $1.27 million. It was $1.23 million in 2011 and $1.18 million in 2010. Bonuses are paid based on employees meeting individual and organizational performance goals, according to the coalition.
The largest bonus awarded by the coalition in recent years went to Leftwich’s predecessor, JP Nauseef, who left in 2008. That year Nauseef received a $111,330 bonus — nearly 72 percent of his $155,533 in pay. His total compensation for the year was $290,914, according to federal tax forms.
Leftwich resigned in March 2011 to take a state development job. That year the coalition paid Leftwich six months of extra pay called for in his contract, along with a bonus, bringing his total compensation to $258,049.
After leaving the coalition, Leftwich served as the state’s director of development and then a staff consultant on aerospace issues. He was terminated from his state job in 2012 after failing to disclose he had a business relationship with Wright State University, where he tried to get his private consulting company an ownership stake in new companies started using WSU research.
When the disclosure issue involving Leftwich surfaced, Gov. John Kasich administration referred it to the Ohio Ethics Commission. The commission has “no publicly available information” about the case, spokeswoman Susan Willeke said.
Wright State said Leftwich’s company no longer has a contract with the university. He also resigned from his appointed position on the commission overseeing Ohio’s Third Frontier program.
Nauseef and Leftwich did not respond to phone and email requests for comment.