Pay for Heads of Nonprofit Groups Will Be Scrutinized

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Wednesday the creation of a task force to investigate executive compensation at nonprofit organizations that receive taxpayer subsidies from the state.

The governor said the organizations “have a special obligation to the taxpayers that support them.”

“Executives at these not-for-profits should be using the taxpayer dollars they receive to help New Yorkers, not to line their own pockets,” Governor Cuomo said.

An article in The Times on Tuesday highlighted salaries at nonprofit organizations that provide Medicaid-financed services to developmentally disabled New Yorkers. It focused on two brothers and the agency they have led since the 1970s, the Young Adult Institute.

The brothers, Philip and Joel Levy, received close to $1 million a year. As part of their compensation, the brothers and other executives were allowed to bill their institute for the costs of their children’s college educations.

Philip H. Levy also charged the organization $50,400 for his daughter’s living expenses one year, money that actually went toward her purchase of a co-op apartment in Greenwich Village. Both brothers retired abruptly at the end of June.

The article in The Times appeared with a list of executives of other providers of Medicaid-financed services to developmentally disabled people who were paid more than $500,000, most considerably above the average chief executive salary for similarly sized nonprofit groups in the state.

The governor’s announcement called the salaries mentioned in the article “startlingly excessive.”

“There is a whole range of compensation levels and extremes that have existed for too long and must be reviewed,” Mr. Cuomo said in the announcement. “The use of taxpayer dollars must be scrutinized at every level.”

There are currently no state rules governing executive or administrative compensation for groups that receive state subsidies. The task force will audit current compensation levels and recommend future rules to ensure that money is not wasted on “excessive salaries and compensation,” the announcement said.

The task force will be led by the New York State inspector general, Ellen N. Biben; Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales; the state Medicaid inspector general, James C. Cox; and the superintendent of the Department of Financial Services, Benjamin M. Lawsky.

Commissioners from the Department of Health, the Office of Mental Health and the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities will also serve on the task force.

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