The Detroit Institute of Arts defended the six-figure salaries of its two top executives on Friday, saying it didn't anticipate a backlash when raises were granted a few years ago, before the city filed for bankruptcy.
Some suburban officials have criticized the museum, especially because it relies on a three-county property tax for much of its budget. The museum also has been at the center of Detroit's bankruptcy case. City-owned art won't be sold to pay creditors, but retirees would see pension cuts under the city's proposed bankruptcy plan.
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Director Graham Beal's total compensation was $534,000 last year, a 17 percent increase since 2011. Chief operating officer Annmarie Erickson received $337,000 in 2013, the museum said.
It appears Erickson got a 36 percent raise in 2012, but the museum called that misleading. Some pay in 2012 was for work performed in 2011, after a promotion.
"The 36 percent number was a total misrepresentation, and we are trying to set the record straight," Erickson said.
In a statement, museum chairman Eugene Gargaro Jr. said Beal and Erickson have taken the DIA through many milestones, including a regional tax approved by voters in 2012.
Nonetheless, museum representatives will meet with elected officials in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties to "ensure that there is full transparency on compensation decisions," Gargaro said.
Oakland County Commissioner David Woodward said there's a need for greater public oversight of pay.
"The DIA now receives a large majority of its funding from tax dollars and it needs to change to match up more in line with that public support," he said.