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October 20, 2014

Detroit Museum Defends Executive Salaries Amid Outcry

The Detroit Institute of Arts on Friday defended double-digit pay hikes awarded to its top two officials in 2012, a year in which the museum campaigned for a property-tax increase to shore up its shaky finances, the Detroit Free Press and MLive write. Media reports on the raises fueled ire among elected officials in suburban counties where voters approved the tax increase.

Graham Beal, the institute's director, got a 13-percent raise in 2012, boosting his annual salary to $514,000, while the pay of Annmarie Erickson, the chief operating officer, was increased by 36 percent to $369,000, according to tax forms. Issuing a detailed analysis of the numbers, Gene Gargaro, chairman of the museum's board, said Ms. Erickson's 2012 pay was inflated by retroactive payments because she worked several months at her old salary after being promoted to COO. He said she and Mr. Beal had provided "strong and thoughtful leadership" during tough times and were paid slightly less than the average for peers at comparable institutions.

Mr. Gargaro acknowledged that the paychecks created perception problems for the museum and pledged to keep officials in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne Counties "informed on a current basis" about wage decisions. "I would not deny that the compensation they receive is significant," he said. "But I would also say that they've earned it."