With the average monthly merit pay combined with his salary, Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority (FCRA) CEO Daniel Mann is making significantly more per employee managed than other top government leaders in the Fort Smith metro.
Mann’s annual salary is $190,225. A stipulation in Mann’s contract states that FCRA agrees to pay Mann a “merit compensation” of 2% of the sale price of all real property transactions in which FCRA is the seller of the property as long as he is the CEO. From Jan. 1, 2022 to Sept. 15, that merit pay has resulted in $136,360.40. That means that over those 21 months, Mann has made approximately $6,493.35 per month added to his regular salary or roughly $77,920 in 12 months.
FCRA has five employees and for 2023 set a budget of $4.837 million in expenditures and $2.648 million in revenue, according to Janet Gabrey, FCRA director of finance. Dividing his salary and his 12-month approximate merit pay by the number of employees shows that Mann makes $53,629 per year per employee managed. Just looking at annual salary alone, he makes approximately $38,045 per employee.
His base salary without merit pay added is 3.9% of the FCRA estimated expenditures for the year. With the merit pay added in, it is 5.5% of the estimated expenditures.
Mann’s merit pay is based on his selling land in the authority. In October 2022, FCRA decided to end its use of real estate brokers, meaning the duties of selling the property now fall primarily to Mann. Mann said in March this had led to a significant reduction in expenses for the authority.
In a letter dated Sept. 6, the Arkansas Real Estate Commission notified Mann and the FCRA that a complaint had been filed by Steve Beam, president of Steve Beam Construction, stating that Mann and FCRA may have violated state real estate licensing law. The complaint contends that the merit pay of 2% of the sale price of all real property transactions in which FCRA is the seller of the property as long as he is the CEO is a legal violation. Mann and the FCRA have said the complaint is without merit and Mann is acting legally within the authority of the FCRA’s “statutory powers.”
The merit pay stipulation was not in Mann’s original contract when he was hired in 2019, Person said. It was added with the contract dated Dec. 16, 2021.
Mann and Dean Gibson, FCRA chair, provided statements to Talk Business & Politics defending the pay.
“When I was first hired, I was given the unique responsibility of guiding the FCRA towards its conclusion when the organization would no longer be here. Just looking at ‘pay per employee’ does not take into consideration that I am asked to do more with less than most leaders of public organizations. Since arriving we have reduced our staff by half, but our duties have remained the same. Overseeing the redevelopment of more than 7,000 acres, ensuring those who purchase property actually develop it, and preparing the FCRA for its conclusion is demanding work for a small staff. I believe the FCRA Board of Trustees recognizes this challenge. Even with my merit compensation, our total costs are down 6% compared to the 5-year average before I arrived in 2019. Additionally, since we no longer have an exclusive real estate agreement in place, we will be able to significantly reduce the percentage of commission expenses paid per sale transaction,” Mann noted.
“The FCRA Board of Trustees and I recognize the valuable work Daniel provides to this organization, where he oversees a dedicated and nimble staff that is expected to do a lot. He is compensated fairly for the work that he does. The Board also recognizes the production and value Daniel has brought to Chaffee Crossing, since his arrival. He has been successful in increasing total property sales by ninety percent, over his time here compared to the same time before he arrived. In addition, with the increase revenue generated by sales, our capital expenditures that are reinvested back into the Chaffee Crossing redevelopment project have increased forty-nine percent compared to the same period. Other public organizations have much larger staffs they can rely on. Not the FCRA. We’re proud to do more with less,” Gibson wrote.
Michael Griffin, airport director of Fort Smith Regional Airport, has an annual salary of $130,000. As the airport director, he manages 17 employees and oversees 68 tenants. Griffin makes approximately $7,647 per employee per year. The airport has an annual budget of $5.6 million, making Griffin’s salary 2.3% of the budget.
Sebastian County Judge Steve Hotz has an annual salary of $106,945 and manages 112 full-time employees. There are 413 employees in the county. His salary breaks down to $954.87 per employee under his management per year. With an annual budget of $69.712 million, Hotz’s salary is 0.15% of the budget.
Fort Smith Police Chief Danny Baker has an annual salary of $136,899 He manages 217 employees and has a department budget of $24.132 million for 2023. With an annual salary that is 0.56% of the annual budget, he averages $630 per employee per year.
Greenwood School District Superintendent John Ciesla has an annual salary of $187,200. With 500 employees, his per person breakdown is $374.40. His salary is 0.44% of the district’s approximate operating budget of $43 million.
University of Arkansas at Fort Smith Chancellor Dr. Terisa Riley has an annual salary of $295,800. Her contract also stipulates a $36,000 annual housing allowance and a $6,000 annual car allowance. Riley manages 967 employees bringing her per employee amount to $305.89 with just her base salary and $349 with base salary plus allowances. Her annual salary is 0.4% of the university’s operating budget of $72.208 million. Her annual salary and allowances combine to be 0.47% of the UAFS budget this year.
Van Buren School District Superintendent Harold Jeffcoat has an annual salary of $240,470. He oversees 774 licensed and nonlicensed employees and 215 support personnel for a total of 989 employees. His per employee breakdown is $243. His salary is 0.32% of the district’s operating budget of $74.379 million.
Fort Smith City Administrator Carl Geffken has an annual salary of $192,937.68. With 1,101 city employees to manage, Geffken’s per person breakdown is $175. His salary is 0.06% of the city’s budget.
Fort Smith Public School Superintendent, Dr. Terry Morawski, has an annual salary of $253,838.98. He has a miscellaneous payment contract for $22,633.92 annually. With 2,079 employees under his management, Morawski earns roughly $122 per employee with base salary alone, and $133 per employee with the miscellaneous pay. His salary is 0.11% of the school district’s 2023-24 budget of $224.185 million. The additional pay brings that to 0.12% of the budget.