A 58% increase in pay for a chief executive can raise a few eyebrows, even in a good year. In a bad one, it’s bound to raise questions — especially when peers at larger organizations earn less. But Wilmington Industrial Development Inc. is providing few answers about why Scott Satterfield got such a huge pay increase in fiscal 2007-08, a year the nonprofit ran a $43,325 deficit.
Company filings with the Internal Revenue Service show Satterfield’s pay jumped from $191,708 in 2006-07 to $303,669 the following fiscal year. His counterpart at the Charleston Regional Development Alliance in North Charleston, S.C., made $186,000 in fiscal 2007-08 — though the Charleston group has nearly twice the budget and ended the year in the black.
Wilmington Industrial Development Chairman William King says retention incentives negotiated in 2001 boosted Satterfield’s pay for 2007-08. His compensation dropped the following year, King says, but he would not give details. He also wouldn’t confirm reports that Satterfield’s annual salary is now about $205,000. “That’s something that’s confidential,” says King, who runs the Wilmington operation of Invista S.a.r.l LLC, a Wichita, Kan.-based maker of synthetic fiber. Satterfield, who joined the nonprofit in 1993 and became CEO in 1995, did not respond to a telephone message requesting comment.
The four-person staff handles industry recruiting for New Hanover and Pender counties, Wilmington and Wallace, according to its Web site. It receives funding from the counties, Wilmington and the nonprofit Wallace 100 Committee Inc., as well as from member companies. Among the successes it claims is the expansion, announced in 2008, of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas LLC headquarters near Wilmington — a $700 million project expected to produce 900 jobs by 2013. Those jobs were expected to pay an average of $85,000 a year, more than twice the New Hanover County average.
Big jumps in compensation are unusual for nonprofit executives, says Hank Federal, a Charlotte-based human-resources consultant with Toledo, Ohio-based Findley Davies Inc. Nonprofits usually try to provide steady bumps instead of big one-year increases that create concern. Bonuses or incentives are more common in for-profit companies.
King says WID paid a consultant he would not name for a market survey of other organizations to help determine Satterfield’s compensation. He would not explain what prompted the payments to kick in for that year. “I do feel the compensation Scott receives is representative of the market and of his performance.”
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