As I pointed out in today’s story, the top two officials at the Southeastern Economic Development Corp. have for years been paying themselves five-figure bonuses that are unseen by the agency’s board of directors or the City Council.

One point I made in the story is that while SEDC’s budget does make a vague allocation for certain bonuses and “miscellaneous” salaries and wages, in at least a couple of years that allocation has been largely swallowed up in bonuses and extra compensation for just the top two officials, President Carolyn Smith and Finance Director Dante Dayacap.

One thing I didn’t mention, and that I just figured out, is that in fiscal year 2006-2007, the last year for which records are available, just Smith and Dayacap’s bonuses and extra compensation appear to have exceeded the agency’s entire budget for any extra compensation for all its employees.

In fiscal year 2006-2007, SEDC’s budget listed a maximum of $94,000 that the agency could spend over and above base salaries. Just to be clear, that means that SEDC was cleared to spend no more than $94,000, total, on overtime, merit pay, bonuses, temporary positions and any “miscellaneous” payments to employees throughout the fiscal year.

But that year, according to a very conservative calculation of Smith and Dayacap’s bonuses and extra compensation, those two officials earned at least a combined $110,000 in bonuses and extra compensation — $16,000 more than the agency’s budget for non-salary payments for all employees.

My calculation assumes that Smith and Dayacap saw a 20 percent increase in their benefits last year. I had to subtract those estimated benefits from the total compensation each employee received in fiscal year 2006-2007 because SEDC decided that year to include benefits in the “compensation” figures listed on its tax forms. I have asked them why they did that, but no one at the agency has answered my calls since last Friday. (In previous years, benefits were accounted for in a separate line-item.)

One thing to remember is that Smith told me in an interview two weeks ago that most of the bonuses — i.e. the annual holiday bonus and the annual cost of living payment — are paid to all employees, not just Smith and Dayacap. For example, all employees receive cost-of-living payments and holiday bonuses, Smith said. All employees also have the option to cash in on their unused holiday time and their unused sick days.

Then there are also the entire agency’s overtime payments, and any temporary staffing they have to pay for.

As I mentioned in today’s story, I can’t, as yet, calculate how much all the other employees have received in these extra payments because the tax records for those employees aren’t in SEDC’s tax forms. But I will certainly be putting in a request to find out how much, in total, SEDC has been paying out in these hidden, unapproved, bonuses for the last few years.

I already know that SEDC exceeded its total allowance for such payments in fiscal year 2006-2007 just in paying Smith and Dayacap their extra bonuses and compensation. Once they provide me with the information on all employees, we’ll have a better idea of how the amount paid in bonuses and extra compensation matches up with the budget.

WILL CARLESS

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