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Debate continues over executive salaries at credit unions after local CEO takes home $7.97M

A debate is unfolding around the earnings of a CEO at a Central New York bank, which technically has status as a nonprofit.

It’s a credit union, or more specifically – the AmeriCU Credit Union – and the bank’s CEO Mark Pfisterer, who racked up nearly $8 million in 2017 as CEO of the bank.

The 68-year-old is set to retire next year after 41 years at the Rome-based credit union, according to Syracuse.com. His earnings in 2017 were significantly higher than in other years because of deferred retirement benefits.

Congress is clamping down on these kinds of paydays at nonprofit organizations, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a debate unfolding anyway.

Before 2017, Pfisterer’s salary was around $790,000 per year. Including regular and deferred pay, Pfisterer earned about $14 million over the past seven years, or an average of $2 million per year.

“You look at the total package over 41 years, and we had a great value for a lot of years,’’ said John Stevenson, who chairs the credit union’s volunteer board of directors, who spoke to Syracuse.com. That’s where the dollar amount had come from over the years in terms of salary. The value he brought to the company was such that it warranted a big pay day.

Opponents of clamping down on salaries at nonprofit banks comes back to the competitive world of employment. In order to retain, or hire the best available candidates for positions across the board – banks like AmeriCU have to compete with the ‘for profit’ sector.

However, opponents say tax exemptions can’t pay for high executive salaries. That’s the intent behind new congressional rules for banks like AmeriCU, and nonprofits overall.

Now nonprofits who pay their employees more than $1 million annually will have to pay a 21% penalty.


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