TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida taxpayers will likely share the anger of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice over a nonprofit company, funded with state contracts, that pays its CEO a seven-figure salary.
DJJ conducted an analysis of The Henry and Rilla White Foundation's budget and discovered the group paid its CEO more than $1.2 million a year.
DJJ said that's too much money, especially when you consider the foundation's spending on services for troubled children has declined, while executive compensation has dramatically increased.
The foundation's tax forms reveal it paid three people more than $1.7 million last year. Those three salaries alone accounted for 12 percent of the foundation's annual expenses.
Juvenile Justice Secretary Wansley Waters sent a letter to the foundation, saying the salary for CEO William Schossler is drastically higher than CEO's of comparable nonprofit groups.
DJJ spokesman CJ Drake said the state and taxpayers don't want their cash spent on excessive salaries.
"We have a responsibility to be good stewards of the taxpayers' money and the taxpayers of Florida are paying for serious critical services for troubled young people in the state's care. So we have to make sure that money is being spent responsibly and wisely and in this case, we don't think so."
The Henry and Rilla White Foundation has 23 state contracts to provide counseling for children and try to keep them out of the juvenile justice system.
William Schossler declined to talk on camera but said his board of directors increased his pay and benefits in preparation for his retirement. He called it a responsible payout since he founded the nonprofit and has worked to build it up over the past 25 years.
Drake says DJJ is waiting for a response from Schossler and is considering all of its options to make sure tax dollars are spent wisely and children benefit from that money.
"These are troubled young people who've had brushes with the law. They need help. They need therapy. They need counseling so it's a very serious business that we're in and we want to make sure that the taxpayers are getting a good return on their investment."
First Coast News