Highest Paid State Employees List Included Notable Errors

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 12:00 am  

The University of Arkansas says it made an error when reporting Chancellor G. David Gearhart's total compensation package for fiscal 2012 to the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

Therefore, last week's Arkansas Business list that showed his pay package was the third-highest among state employees was also in error. (A corrected list is available here.)

Gearhart said his compensation package should not have included $294,323 that was listed as deferred compensation paid by the University of Arkansas Foundation during fiscal 2012.

Backing that out, his total pay should have been listed as $588,330. That includes his salary last year of $295,396 (of which $243,894 was public funds and $51,502 came from the UA Foundation) and $225,000 in deferred compensation that will be paid at some point in the future and as well as various benefits provided to all employees.

It also drops him to No. 9 among all state employees and to the No. 4 spot among state employees who don't work for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

But what about that $294,323 that was originally reported to the ADHE?

Gearhart said that represented state and federal taxes he paid out of an account set up by the UA Foundation for deferred compensation he received, at a rate of $100,000 a year, while he was the UA's vice chancellor from fiscal 2004 to fiscal 2008. It wasn't income, he said, but just the opposite. And it never should have been reported as part of his 2012 compensation.

Gearhart's salary for the current fiscal year, including state and UA Foundation dollars, is $320,000, a raise of almost $25,000.

Other Gigantic Raises

There were three other mistaken salaries on the list of highest-paid state employees, these due to errors on the state government's new financial transparency website.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Paul E. Danielson is paid $145,204, exactly half the salary that was listed on the state's website and in last week's Arkansas Business. The $103,981 salaries actually paid to Auditor of State executives Peggy B. Gram and Janet L. Harris were also incorrectly doubled.



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