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Macomb commissioners urge DIA to return bonus money

Ursula Watson
The Detroit News

Mount Clemens — The Macomb Board of Commissioners voted 11 to 1 Thursday night to urge the Detroit Institute of Arts to rescind bonuses paid with a $23 million millage approved by voters in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.

Initiated by commissioners Robert Mijac and Veronica Klinefelt, the resolution is in response to $90,000 in bonuses paid to three executives in 2013, the first year the DIA collected millage money.

Klinefelt, D-Eastpointe, said while the resolution doesn’t hold the weight of law, she hopes it will serve as a wake-up call to the DIA.

“We are hoping to get them to recognize what is happening economically in the Detroit area and what types of pay raises other people in the Detroit area are experiencing and at least take that into consideration,” said Klinefelt.

For Mijac, D-Sterling Heights, the resolution was a way to make the DIA think twice about doling out big bonuses and raises in the future.

“I think it is unfortunate that the people who received the bonuses and raises aren’t obviously going to give them back, since the money was raised privately,” he said. “In these tough economic times, to give bonuses and raises of that magnitude to people who already make more than the average person is unfortunate.”

Earlier this month, after the backlash, the directors of the DIA repaid the museum $90,000 as reimbursement for the bonuses. DIA director Grahram Beal received $50,000, chief operating officer Annmarie Erickson was paid $30,000 and $10,000 went to chief financial officer Robert Bowen.

The repaid bonuses from 2013 were awarded as the $23 million regional tax began flowing to the museum. The millage accounts for 70 percent of the museum’s budget.

Beal and Erickson were each paid $50,000 in bonuses in 2012 that Oakland County officials demanded be returned. That money has not been repaid. DIA officials said no millage money was used for that compensation.

The News reported the bonuses and compensation Oct. 9 based on 2012 IRS documents.

That year, Beal’s total compensation increased 13 percent to $513,868. Erickson saw her compensation increase 36 percent to $369,366, a number that includes both the bonus and retroactive pay earned in 2011 but not delivered until the contract from her promotion was finalized. By attributing her 2012 compensation to the year in which it was earned, the DIA considers her 2012 increase to be 4 percent.

Staff Writer Jennifer Chambers contributed.