Ice rink director could get $80,000 salary

February 11, 1997


Staff Writer

The executive director of the city-owned ice rink eventually could make $80,000 a year, according to an application for Washington County Gaming Commission funds to help build the rink.

Officials of the Washington County Sports Foundation Inc., which will operate the rink for the City of Hagerstown, say the salary figures on the application are estimates that probably are high and are for planning purposes only.

The sports foundation's Nov. 27 request for $15,000 in gaming funds, which the Gaming Commission denied, said Walter Dill would receive no salary as the part-time executive director in the rink's first year of operation, beginning in August.


In August 1998, the executive director's position would become a full-time job with a salary of $40,000, and in August 1999, the salary would double to $80,000, according to the application.

Dill has been the driving force behind construction of a community ice rink. He came up with the idea of building an ice rink and negotiated with the city to loan the foundation $1.2 million to build the rink on the old Hagerstown Fairgrounds.

Hagerstown Certified Public Accountant Ronald Sulchek, accountant for the sports foundation, said the executive director's salary estimate also includes benefits such as health and disability insurance and a pension fund.

Questioned about the salary figures, Dill, who said last week he would not be paid as executive director, said he did not fill out the gaming commission application and intends to remain at his current job.

"Those were all estimates. I have no plans (to leave) my job," Dill, an assistant vice president at First Data Merchant Services, said Tuesday. "It was just figures that were estimated on the high side. I'm not leaving here."

Jo Ellen Barnhart, marketing director for the foundation, said she filled out part of the application and Dill's name was used only because he is the current executive director. She said that doesn't necessarily mean he will be in that position in two years.

"They're just numbers that were put in there. They're arbitrary because the board has to decide what's appropriate for that position and they haven't done that," Barnhart said.

Barnhart said an $80,000 salary for an executive director was probably high, "but when you plan out the budget you aim high."

The salary would be "very negotiable," she said.

The $80,000 figure is "higher than the (salaries of the) city administrator and the police chief, but I just have no basis for comparison among ice rinks," Hagerstown Mayor Steven T. Sager said.

The foundation's application to the Internal Revenue Service for nonprofit status notes that the executive director's salary will be set and reviewed annually by the foundation's board of directors, which will determine an appropriate salary based on a survey of what other organizations pay for like services, Sulchek said.

Dill, who created the foundation, has stepped down from its board of directors to avoid a conflict of interest since he will be the rink's executive director, Sulchek said.

Wendy Dyke, co-owner of the Frederick Sport & Ice Arena which opened in Frederick, Md., in December 1994 and expanded to two rinks in 1995, said that in the second year, salaries there increased by 2.2 percent and there is no projected increase for the third year.

No one in the rink's management "makes anywhere near the $80,000 mark" because even with $2 million a year in sales and ice time rentals, revenues can't support salaries that high, Dyke said.

The Frederick ice skating arena was built and is run with private funds.

The city will have some oversight of salaries at its rink through a representative on the foundation's board of directors and through periodic reviews of the rink's financial records, city Economic Development Coordinator Deborah Everhart said.

"If (salaries) came in higher than we think reasonable we would review that," she said.

The mayor and City Council will have to decide what authority, if any, they want to have over salaries at the rink, Everhart said.

To supplement the city's $1.2 million loan, the sports foundation must raise the remaining approximately $800,000 of the rink's construction cost and repay the city's loan on a monthly basis over 15 years.

City officials have verified that the foundation thus far has raised $620,000 in cash and in-kind contributions, Sager said Tuesday.

A ground-breaking ceremony for the rink was held Saturday.

On Tuesday the City Council, by a 4-0 vote, approved a site plan and an ice rink development agreement between the city and the foundation, Sager said. Councilman Lewis Metzner was not present.

The City Council will vote on a rink lease agreement with the foundation in a few months, Sager said.

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