As Zooological Society of Florida plans Stierheim pay, IRS reports detail history
By Ashley D. Torres
The Zoological Society of Florida has not set a salary for new interim head Merrett Stierheim but Internal Revenue Service documents available to the public reveal the salaries of past presidents and the organization's finances.
The IRS 990 forms are annual reports that provide the IRS and the public with information on a tax-exempt organization's programs and finances.
Daniel Licciardi, chair of the society, which is the nonprofit support organization for newly renamed Zoo Miami, said a salary for Mr. Stierheim has not been determined and he would know more within a few weeks.
Mr. Stierheim and current President and CEO Nestor Rodriguez, who is to leave July 19 to head development at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, are working together during the transition to make sure that "everything is covered adequately," Mr. Licciardi said. He said Mr. Stierheim, who was a longtime society volunteer, may work part-time or full-time as the board searches for a permanent leader within in a few months.
Mr. Stierheim, also known as "Mr. Fix It," has served as Miami-Dade county manager, Miami-Dade school superintendent and head of the county tourism bureau, among other leadership posts. He has been called on in the past to assist organizations with transitions.
Mr. Licciardi would not say if Mr. Stierheim, who held his first staff meeting June 28, is receiving a salary while they work out the details of his temporary position.
"I'm sure whatever we do will be retroactive," he said.
The salary of the president and CEO post has varied over the years.
According to the IRS forms, Mr. Rodriguez, who has headed the society since September 2008, receives a salary of $188,777. Former President Manuel Gonzalez received an annualized salary of $151,667 during his four months as head and Glenn Ekey, who served as president and CEO for five years and as executive director for ten, ultimately received $199,102.
A major component in the society's finances is direct public support, which has declined in recent years. This includes gifts, contributions and membership dues. In the fiscal year from Oct. 1, 2008, to Sept. 30, 2009, the society received $3,381,972 in direct public support compared to $4,016,823 from October 2007 to September 2008.
The society's total revenue has also decreased because of completion of the Amazon & Beyond exhibit in December 2009, said Annie Juarez, society controller. For fiscal 2008, the society's total revenue was $3,261,635, significantly less than 2007's $29,820,503 when construction of Amazon & Beyond was still underway. The society's average revenue is about $3 million, she said.
Under the society's 2008 Supplemental Information to Form 990, it is noted that financial statements and governing documents are available to the public and can be requested by any interested party.
When Mr. Stierheim was first named, Mr. Licciardi told Miami Today that the society does not disclose salaries.
IRS 990 forms and other financial information for non-profit organizations can also be found on websites such as charitynavigator.org and guidestar.org.