Despite huge financial issues, inappropriate art exhibits and two lawsuits against Broward County, the CEO of the troubled Young At Art (YAA) Children’s Museum received another huge raise in her paycheck. The most recent forms filed with the IRS show Mindy Shrago received a $170,723 salary. The previous year, Shrago’s take home pay was a mere $157,828 for a fifty-hour work week. Last October, REDBROWARD revealed the how Shrago benefitted from the museum’s move to the public facility in Davie.
According to public records, Shrago has received big salary raises even while she desperately tried to restructure the Davie museum’s financial deal with Broward County.
In 2013, published reports claimed Shrago and YAA reneged on its deal with Broward County. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Broward taxpayers purchased land in Davie and built a new home for Shrago’s museum, “on the promise the museum would pay some of the money back — $1 million a year for 11 years.” Even though YAA raised $5 million dollars, it used that money to pay for art exhibits instead of making payments to the county.
But, Federal tax records showed YAA had money to pay Shrago’s six figure salary.
SHRAGO MADE BIG BUCKS WHILE YAA LOST REVENUE
According to records filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Young At Art has been seriously hemorraghing money since 2011. Over a four year period, YAA total revenues fell from $3,691,581 million to $3,100,507 million. But these same records show Mindy Shrago kept receiving her big paycheck.
Young at Art’s 2013 Federal IRS Form 990 shows Shrago received a $140,387 yearly salary. The form claims Shrago worked fifty hours a week.
Even though YAA was in the midst of a serious financial crisis, the 2014 Form 990 shows Shrago received a sizable salary increase. Shrago was paid $152,407 for a fifty hour work week. This was a $12,020 increase for the executive director of an ailing institution funded by Broward taxapayers.
A year later, Shrago’s take home pay jumped to $157,828 dollars. While still seeking relief from the County, Shrago received a $5,421 raise. It’s unclear if the YAA Board approved these increases each year or whether they were part of Shrago’s contract.
MUSEUM MOVE BROUGHT BIGGER PAYCHECK
Federal tax records show Shrago’s first big jump in salary came after her new “Taj Mahal” opened in 2012.
A review of YAA tax forms dating as far back as 2005 show Mindy Shrago always collected a six-figure paycheck. In 2005 and 2006, Shrago took home $100,000 dollars from her non-profit organization. The 2007 Form 990 shows Shrago’s pay increased to $121, 153 dollars, reflecting a $21,153 raise. From 2008 to 2011, records show Mindy Shrago was paid $125,000 per year for running the museum.
In May 2012, YAA moved from a modest strip mall in Davie to a new building County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger called the “Taj Mahal.” Shrago convinced Broward County Commissioners to purchase land in Davie and build a fancy new home for the museum. In exchange, YAA was to pay the County $1 million dollars a year over eleven years.
One year later, when YAA failed to pay, the County agreed to spread the payments over thirty-one years.
It’s unclear if the YAA Board recommended these increases each year or whether they were part of Shrago’s contract.
According to the latest IRS Form 990, Shrago received a $12,895 salary increase.
No mention of the pay raise is made in the latest lawsuit filed by Shrago and her son against Broward County.
Last week, former Judge Jay Spechler filed a libel and slander lawsuit on behalf of his wife, Mindy Shrago and his son Zack Spechler. The lawsuit alleges eight counts of libel and slander against Broward County, ArtsMarket, Inc and its owner Louise Stevens.
Lawsuit claims Broward County Commissioners and the independent consultant made numerous false statements about Shrago, Spechler and YAA. The Spechler family claims former County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger made inaccurate and false statements regarding the amount of money spent on YAA exhibits. The Spechlers claim County Commissioner Tim Ryan made inaccurate statements about YAA not paying its debt to Broward taxpayers. The Spechlers claim County Commissioner Dale Holness made similar inaccurate statements about the museum spending $20 million dollars on exhibits.
The Spechlers claim Broward County knew Gunzburger’s comments were, “[F]alse and never took affirmative actions to mitigate the damage that was done to Shrago’s reputation as reported by the Sun Sentinel.”
The plaintiffs take issue with Louise Steven’s report to the County Commission which detailed payments made to Zack Spechler and his sister Ali Spechler.
When will Broward County Commissioners put an end to this expensive taxpayer-funded drama?