Scouts may be thrifty, but some leaders are well paid

Many professional Scouters earn 6-figure salaries across the U.S.

Published: Sunday, Nov. 11 2007 12:00 a.m. MST

Scouts and their leaders salute during a presentation of colors at a national Scout Jamboree in 2005.

Lawrence Jackson, Associated Press

A Scout is thrifty, the Boy Scout Law teaches. Many adult leaders put that into practice by volunteering without pay and sacrificing precious time and vacation weeks for camps.

But guess how much the Great Salt Lake Council pays its full-time, professional Scout executive, Paul Moore.

It is $214,000 a year (including a salary of $194,458 and benefits of $19,544). In comparison, the salary of Vice President Dick Cheney is $215,700 a year, and the salaries of Chief Justice John Roberts and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are both $212,100.

"I know people may drop their toast in their cereal when they read that," Moore said.

"But I'm not embarrassed by my compensation. I've worked very hard and been very successful in this business," he said. "This is a life's work for me that has purchased 60 to 80 hours (a week) of my time for all of my working life. ... If I were not making that salary here, I would probably be making a larger salary in the BSA somewhere else."

He's right. Other similar Scout leaders nationally often make much more. At the top of that in 2005, the last year for which public data are readily available, was then-national Scout executive Roy Williams.

His compensation was nearly $1 million (including a salary of $552,379 and benefits of $436,040). President Bush was paid $400,000 that year.

Such information — of special interest in Utah, home of the nation's largest Scout councils as measured by membership in traditional troops and packs — is found in the Forms 990 that tax-exempt organizations must file with the Internal Revenue Service. An analysis of such forms for nearly 300 Boy Scout councils nationwide by the Deseret Morning News reveals:

• Boy Scouts both in Utah and nationally tend to pay their top executives significantly more than do other large, nonprofit groups that serve youths. Boy Scouts say their organization requires more skills and longer hours than the other groups.

• The three Scout councils in Utah tend to have many more executives than average with salaries above $50,000 a year. Officials here say that is because many have long tenure and are responsible for training many times more volunteers than average because of the high number of Scouts here (where the LDS Church makes Scouting a formal part of its youth program).

• While pay for top Scout executives in Utah is high compared to salaries for such professions here as doctors and lawyers, those executives still generally receive less than fellow Scout executives elsewhere in similarly sized councils.

• Such salaries come while Friends of Scouting fund-raising drives here are different than anywhere else. In Utah, LDS Church congregations are assigned to visit all homes in their boundaries to solicit funds. Quotas are often set. If congregations fail to meet them, they may not receive discounts for camps and supplies that others enjoy. Elsewhere nationally, Scout leaders merely tend to explain needs to parents and seek funds without quotas.

• Councils in Utah tend to spend a higher percentage of their money on fund raising than average — while they spend a comparatively lower percentage on services. Officials say that is due, in part, to a need to raise money to buy or develop new camps. Current camps can handle only a quarter to half of the units in councils here.

Other youth groups

Compared to other large youth groups, Boy Scout executives both in Utah and nationally are paid more, according to 2005 compensation figures.

Utah has three Scout councils. Moore's 2005 compensation was $201,600 (since raised to $214,000) to lead the Great Salt Lake Council based in Salt Lake City. Thomas Powell (recently retired) was paid $161,413 to lead the Utah National Parks Council based in Orem. Rick Barnes was paid $122,153 to lead the Trapper Trails Council based in Ogden.

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