By Steve Plunkett
Grateful commissioners of the Greater Boca Raton Beach & Park District started off the new budget year in October by giving their executive director a 33 percent raise.
“I do think that he should be compensated for some of the extra time that he’s putting in —hours and hours and hours on our behalf,” Commissioner Susan Vogelgesang said in urging a $30,000-a-year pay hike for Arthur Koski.
The increase, retroactive to July 1, pushes Koski’s pay as executive director from $90,000 annually to $120,000. He is also paid $150,000 a year as the district’s attorney.
The past year has been a busy one for the Beach & Park District. Among other projects, it is negotiating to buy the privately owned Ocean Breeze golf course, building a new community center at its Swim and Racquet Center and considering letting the School Board build a new school at the southeast corner of Sugar Sand Park.
Vogelgesang admired Koski’s around-the-clock availability to tackle problems.
“Fellow commissioners, I don’t know if you send Art emails at 6 a.m. and get a reply at 6:05, but I certainly have,” she said.
District Chairman Robert Rollins echoed her praise.
“I probably have as much communication with Art as you times five because I’m talking with Art as early as 5:30 in the morning,” Rollins said. “We keep piling on, like discussions of eminent domain, discussions of Addison Mizner [elementary school] — it just goes on and on and on.”
Vice Chairman Steve Engel said a recent business trip Koski took highlighted “a little-known fact” about his pay.
“When Mr. Koski goes up to New York on park district business, that expense comes out of his own pocket,” Engel said.
Koski also absorbs the park district’s share of his downtown law office rent and secretarial salaries. He receives no benefits or pension contributions from the district.
“The more they pay me, the more my office expenses go up,” he said after the meeting.
Commissioner Craig Ehrnst, who during his 2016 campaign said Koski’s pay was too high, joined the unanimous vote on the raise.
“He’s put more than that time in it from what I’ve seen in this period,” Ehrnst said.
During Ehrnst’s campaign, Koski earned $90,000 as executive director, $132,000 as legal counsel and $108,000 as contract administrator, for a total of $330,000 a year. He shed the contract administrator job in November.
In December, commissioners raised his pay as legal counsel to $150,000 annually. With the latest raise he will be earning $270,000 a year.
Beach & Park commissioners have also authorized a $25,000 retainer for extra legal work Koski undertakes while researching the use of eminent domain to take ownership of three beachfront parcels, two that are undeveloped and one that is occupied.