Showing posts with label financial mismanagement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label financial mismanagement. Show all posts

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Disgraceful Waste: Bob Malm Flushes $2 Million of Church Funds Down the Toilet on His Personal Residence

Speaking of dysfunction, in 2014 the Grace vestry decided to write off half of the value of a loan it had made 10 years earlier to Bob Malm. The loan had been provided so that Bob could purchase a private residence. But writing off half the loan, especially at a time when the church was in relatively dismal financial condition, was a bad and irresponsible decision, as we’ll see below. And before you ask, as a vestry member, I was the sole person to vote no on the forgiveness, which amounted to $100,000 of a $200,000 loan.

But there’s more to it than just the loan. As we’ll see below, the loan is just the tip of the iceberg in a series of spectacularly ill-advised business decisions made by the vestry at Bob Malm’s urging. In this matter, Bob placed his perceived personal interests ahead of those of the parish he claims to serve, while the vestry lost sight of its fiduciary obligations.

First, an important disclaimer, which is that a loan for a personal residence is the one exception to the canonical prohibition on churches lending money to their clergy. Thus, there is nothing inherently wrong about a church lending its rector money for the down payment for a personal residence.

That said, it is important to note that, at the time Bob decided to buy a personal residence, he resided in a perfectly livable rectory, much larger than his current home. Yes, it needed work, perhaps as much as $200,000 worth, but it was comfortable, convenient, and owned free and clear by the church.

But Bob appears to have had it in his head that if he had his own place it would be a nest egg for retirement. That of course, presupposes adequate maintenance and upkeep—neither of which has happened in practice. Thus, Bob traded a large, poorly maintained home for a small, poorly maintained home, all while spending a small mountain of donated cash. Nice move, Bob. 



So, despite considerable misgivings and resistance on the part of the vestry, Bob bludgeoned a proposal through the vestry to help him buy a private residence. This he did by dint of much noisy argument, and by remaining present during the vestry vote on the matter, with the result that more than one vestry member feared that, if they voted no, they would face retaliation. Yes, imagine that.

But the proposal went further. At Bob’s urging, the church tore down the rectory, an asset with a value of roughly $700,000, at an all-in demolition cost of about $200,000. (Such projects are surprisingly costly.) Thus, the parish was down about $900,000, of which roughly $200,000 was a wash versus the cost of updating the rectory.

To get Bob into his new residence, the parish extended what was then a $100,000 loan for the down payment, and boosted Bob’s total compensation via a housing allowance and other perks from a little more than $70,000 a year, plus the use of the rectory, to a total well more than double the original figure.

To make matters worse, the original loan amortized accrued interest. In other words, the loan just sat there like Jabba the Hut, getting bigger and bigger over time, with no payments or interest due. Thus, Bob’s personal residence needed to increase in value by 7% every year if the loan was not to erode any potential profit that Bob would make at the time he resold the house. Hardly a done deal in the best of times, and a very tall order indeed for a small, older home with few updates and much deferred maintenance.



Jabba would look better with a hair transplant, don’t you think?

When the note first matured in 2009, Bob already had signaled that he would likely seek another position, one in a different church. But it appears that Bob did not find another church willing to match his insanely generous compensation package, nor provide a laissez-faire governance regime in which, to closely paraphrase one of Bob’s former assistant rectors, “Bob could get away with murder.” So, in true Grace Church fashion, the vestry decided to add insult to injury for all parties and kick the can down the road. The maturation date on the loan was set back another five years, conveniently ignoring the deferred maintenance and interest that was piling up on Bob’s personal residence and thus eroding the parties’ equity in the property.

By this time, Bob still had made not a single payment of interest or principal. Making monthly payments, regardless of the imprudent terms of the loan, would of course have been sensible, but Bob has never been one to let such niceties intrude. As a result, when the loan matured in 2014, the value of the loan had ballooned to $200,000, double its original size.

So, in 2014, the vestry decided to “solve” things by writing off $100,000 of the loan, in recognition of Bob’s years of “service,” and requiring repayment of the original loan over a five-year period. That’s right—the church walked away from the original deal and gave Bob a $100,000 bonus. Keep in mind, too, Bob is far from stupid. He knew full well what he was getting into. So, why should he not have been held to the terms and conditions to which he agreed?

There are, of course, circumstances under which this may have been appropriate. For example, if the parish were awash in a sea of cash. Or if Bob’s job performance were exemplary. As in, if he adhered to the terms of his letter of agreement. Or grew the parish. Or had regular mutual ministry reviews. But the reality is that, while Bob can be engaging on an interpersonal level, he views being a priest as, in the words of someone close to him, “Just a job.” So no need to get too caught up in notions of Christian charity—that’s not part of Bob’s worldview, and I can tell you firsthand he doesn’t extend that approach to others.

Bob Malm’s Mediocre Job Performance

Moreover, Bob’s attitude towards being a priest is reflected in his work performance. Consider:
  1. For years, parish business records were a hot mess. 
  2. One of the parish registers has gone missing. 
  3. For more than a decade, church financial records were facially disorganized, and no audit was done, nor was any meaningful effort made to clean up the books. (The parish does an agreed-upon procedures review, which has no external attestation value. In other words, it doesn’t prove anything, but instead recites information provided by the client.) 
  4. Staff has often behaved badly, and one staff member was a hoarder. Bob consistently refused to address these issues.
  5. There still is no strategic plan.
  6. Bob comes and goes pretty much as he pleases; there have been times when he has taken leave far in excess of that permitted under his letter of agreement, and without vestry approval.
  7. Basic canonical requirements, such as a written finance manual, are still not in place, more than 25 years after Bob started his job. (See the Manual of Methods in Church Business Affairs for this and other requirements that Bob has conveniently ignored.)
  8. Even his sermons have become pointedly short, and more than one parishioner has said that Bob seems thoroughly burned out. Bob has become both increasingly lackadaisical and autocratic, while appearing convinced that he is somehow special. Yes, he can turn on the superficial charm when he chooses to, but that’s all it is — superficial charm. I mean, if Bob really cares about the church and its people, as some members claim, why the dysfunction and the indifference? And it’s not like there’s any dearth of folks who’d be willing to help fix things; many parishioners are both intelligent and highly skilled.
Where does that leave things? As things stand, Bob is paid better than a great many Episcopal bishops. For example, below are 2017 salaries for bishops on the staff of the presiding bishop, including Todd Ousley, the bishop in charge of pastoral development:

Nor does locality account for Bob’s overly generous compensation. See, for example, data below for priests in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, which has some of the highest salaries in the country:


Another data point is reflected below, which is the Church Pension Group’s (CPG) 2016 salary survey of Episcopal churches of Province III, which reveals that Bob is compensated at annual rate more than 40 percent higher than comparable clergy in the region (look at the Program category)—and that is without factoring in his $100000 bonus in 2014! (CPG’s numbers include housing and any bonuses paid; the imputed value of a rectory is included).



Bob has about another year of payments left on the original $100,000 loan; meanwhile, the church (including its component entity, the school) is preparing to spend $1.2 million on HVAC improvements that will primarily benefit the school, with half the money coming from the church. The faux slate roof needs to be replaced, the stained glass windows need costly restoration, the parking lot needs repaved, and the original elevator needs to be overhauled.

The Debacle by the Numbers

Total Loss to Grace Episcopal Church, 2004-2018
Total
-$2,000,000.00
ItemCost
Loss of equity, rectory$700,000.00
Write-off, accrued interest$100,000.00
Total compensation increase, 14 years$1,200,000.00
Avoided costs, rectory repairs$200,000.00
Rectory tear-down costs$200,000.00

These numbers become particularly compelling when we look at the capital expenses and extraordinary costs the church will face in the next few years:

Anticipated Capital and Extraordinary Expenses, 2018-2021
Total
-$1,137,500.00
ItemCost
Miscellaneous HVAC repairs$45,000.00
HVAC replacement, church share$600,000.00
Elevator refurbishment, church share$30,000.00
Stained glass restoration$60,000.00
Parking lot repaving, church share$25,000.00
HVAC blueprints, church share$22,500.00
Faux slate roof replacement$60,000.00
Replace failed double-pane windows$40,000.00
Replace exterior rotted wood trim and rake boards$40,000.00
Replace obsolete fire alarm control panel$15,000.00
Contingency funds (needed for HVAC replacement and other major projects in light of facility age)$200,000.00

Outcomes

Keep in mind that, when all this work is done, there still will be major challenges with the building. For instance:
  • The nave still will not be able to maintain temperature during hot summer days or major events. 
  • Plumbing will still be obsolete, with piping in original parts of the building at actuarial end of life (for the record, copper pipes, which comprise most of the plumbing in the building, do not have an indefinite lifespan). 
  • Neither elevator will meet modern Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. 
  • There still will be no ADA-acessible entrance. That means not just a ramp, but Braille signage and an electro-mechanical door opening system to assist wheelchair users and others of limited mobility.
  • Interior directional signage will remain crude and non-ADA compliant.
  • Interior finish, notably much of the 1994 renovations, will still be at end of life. 
  • The commercial kitchen will still be obsolete.
  • Several local HVAC units will remain out, including the one in the rear fire tower.
  • The lower hallway under the original narthex will still lack adequate HVAC.
  • Humidity and temperature control in the undercroft will remain spotty at best due to poor air flow control and the oversized, 20-ton unit that services the space. As a result, summer humidity levels routinely exceed 70 percent, which is neither healthy, nor good for the grand piano and other musical instruments in the choir room.
Nor is the HVAC work likely to come in under budget. Builders are doing well right now, and with the third floor of the building out of service, it will be clear to bidders that the church has little leverage. Further, older buildings such as Grace’s physical plant have one consistent characteristic, and that is their ability to throw curve balls into the path of anyone doing capital improvements. In short, procurement under duress rarely is the most cost-effective procurement, and even more so in a building that is now more than 60 years old.

Nor do things look much better for Bob Malm. Although comparable homes in the area have appreciated by about $200,000 since the date of this purchase, the extent of deferred maintenance on Bob’s private residence, the antiquated layout, the very small size, the perilous exterior steps, the lack of landscaping, the original windows and the obsolete bathrooms leave Bob in a position where he will be lucky to break even. Moreover, despite the influx of donated cash, Bob’s penchant for lengthy vacations, expensive private schools for his children, cosmetic procedures, and other indicia of keeping up with the Hillers left the family in precarious financial condition for many years. See, for example, the judgment recorded in 2010 by Suntrust Bank,  now a matter of public record, six years after the church’s original loan, against Bob’s wife Leslie, for what appears to be an unpaid personal loan; it appears the default occurred on August 2009. (Source: Alexandria General District Court public records)



Similarly, public records reveal what appear to be unpaid dental bills for two of Bob’s children at about the same time; the cases were scheduled for hearing on 12/15/10, but the cases dismissed. My opinion: Getting your kids sued for medical bills is not cool. Actually, it’s pretty damned dysfunctional.  (Source: Fairfax County General District Court public records)


Rising interest rates, bad credit history, and the fact that the original mortgage has an adjustable interest rate also suggest that the house will get more costly over time. A re-fi may take some finagling, and terms for a new loan likely will not be great. So the entire transaction winds up looking even worse with the passage of time, not better.

At the end of the day, Bob engaged in a highly speculative real estate transaction, and now has been bailed out by the church for his remarkably bad business decision. It also is troubling that the loan to Bob was recorded off the books, not showing in the financial reports, for the first ten years. This raises some disturbing issues concerning financial transparency, candor, and accuracy of financial reports. If nothing else, why did the church’s “auditors” not insist that the underlying receivable be reflected in the financials? It is a basic premise of good governance that insider deals such as this be reported publicly. Again, why was this allowed to happen?

Summary

In summary, the church’s current financial posture is best described as a hot mess. Over time, Bob has increased the church’s carrying costs, while reducing its assets and eroding both giving and attendance. Yet the decline in the church’s financial position would be more than adequate to pay cash and carry for upcoming expenses, and even more so had the cash involved in underwriting Bob’s desired lifestyle been appropriately invested.

Meanwhile, the church is placing itself in existential peril, for its continuing declines in giving and attendance could well result in its being unable to meet its financial obligations as this wave of capital expenses hits in the coming years. And regardless of the ultimate outcome, the parish is out more than $2 million dollars as a result of Bob’s self-serving lack of business acumen. At the same time, it is shocking, appalling, and outrageous that Bob Malm should get both a 2014 bonus of $100,000, and annual compensation that exceeds that of many Episcopal bishops, given his feckless job performance. Even his decision to pursue a personal residence, at a time when he couldn’t so much as come up with a down payment, shows a remarkable lack of concern for the wellbeing of the parish and a dearth of common sense.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Bob Malm Allegedly Ignored Bank Complaints that Church Deposits Were Repeatedly Off

Almost 200K a year in compensation and he can’t be bothered to find out why? And why were several thousand dollars’ worth of undeposited cash and stale checks found in a former parish administrator’s office when she left? Why was this not detected before she left? Why after almost 30 years as rector does the church STILL not have the finance manual required by church canons? Why did Bob Malm not realize for many months that Richard Newman was overpaid? Why were church financial reports facially off for many months?

Why?


Monday, June 4, 2018

The Wartburg Watch on Clergy Compensation

In a previous post, I discussed the fact that Bob Malm’s almost $200,000 annual salary, plus his recent $100,000 bonus, means that he makes more than many Episcopal bishops. This article, reprinted under standard usage permissions from The Wartburg Watch, provides some additional context.

Before diving into the article, it’s important to note that the Grace Episcopal church vestry doesn’t even see line-item detail on compensation. As a result, one parish employee, hardly overpaid, received unauthorized pay in excess of the amount approved by the vestry, and subsequently had to repay it. Or, put in other words, even most vestry members have no idea what Bob or other parish employees earn. That being the case, how do they know that mistakes have not been made? That there is no misfeasance going on? That they are exercising their legal obligations to the church by acting as fiduciaries?

The answer: They don’t.

That begs the question: Why are parishioners giving sacrificially when there is zero accountability?

The answer: They shouldn’t. Check out the section in the article that references “Concealing the pastor’s salary”

With that, on to the article.









Should Members Keep Giving Money to a Church That Refuses to Disclose the Pastor’s Salary?

"We're all working together; that's the secret." Sam Walton link
Today I became involved in a discussion on Twitater that raised a question. Should members of a church know the salary and benefits of their pastor(s)?
Three anecdotal experiences on pastors and their salaries
1. A former church:
Except for *Deplorable William,* most folks seemed to believe that the membership should know the salary and benefit package of the pastor. This raised another question. Why do many churches not make it easy for to learn the pastors' salaries? In one of my former churches, one member asked to see the salaries of the pastors. The administrative assistant seemed annoyed and called an elder. The elder met with the member and asked "Why?" The member answered that he was giving money to the church and wanted to see how it was being used.
Reluctantly, the elder led the member into a locked room. The member was force to leave his phone and all writing utensils outside the room. With a stern expression, the elder presented the member with the documents and sat there until the member was done. Once again, why? What are they afraid of?
2. An email from a reader about an interview with a candidate for a worship pastor position.
A growing Baptist church in the Midwest was looking for a person with experience in leading worship. One young applicant (mid 20s) had some experience with a large church in Texas. The description of the church sounded similar to Ed Young JR's Fellowship Church. The young man, exhibiting a rather arrogant, "I know it all" attitude, then said he would not consider the position for anything less than in the low $100,000 range before benefits! He was politely escorted out the door.
3. A comment on Reddit about a pastor's large salary.
Throwaway account here. I recently started to try and live a Christian life once more after being agnostic for the last few years. I've been going to a mid-sized Presbyterian church in a decent part of town(somewhat close to me) and I've been tithing regularly, really trying to be part of the community and support the church and their services and charity work. I just found out the pastor makes over $360,000 per year and I'm really struggling with this. 
The long to short of it is that I started looking for service opportunities with the church and noticed that despite being a good size church, they don't have any service opportunities other than a small "Living Water" group that goes once a year. We have no other charity opportunities or even someone in the church that would set this up. My friend who is on the committee that votes on where the money is going(not sure what the official name is) told me that I could organize service opportunities if I so chose. The conversation went something like this:
Me: "Hey, what are the upcoming service or charity opportunities?"
Him: "Well….we don't really have someone that does that but you are welcome to set something up and I'll email the church members to gauge interest."
Me: "Uh, well then where is my money going? I thought it was going to service?"
Him: "Well we just voted to give the pastor a slight raise, bringing his salary to $360,000 but please keep that between us. There's not really room in the budget to bring on a full-time service organizer"
This threw me for a loop, he got defensive, and I got into an argument with my friend as he claimed that we needed to keep the salary high to attract and keep good pastors(one of our pastors recently left). The church is in a nice area and he also claimed that they decided to pastor needed to make enough so he can afford a house close to the church. Apparently the other administrators and higher ups in the church make over six figures as well according to him.
Obviously I'm heartbroken at where my money is going, with my understanding that most of my donations would go to helping those less fortunate. The other members of the church are unaware of his salary and I was asked to keep the salary disclosure secret from everyone else. The other members seem to be unaware of how much the pastor makes and just assumes the church is handling the money as it sees fit.
Has anyone else seen this and struggled with this? Is it right for a pastor to make so much money? I understand that this may be the "free market" at work but the members have no idea about the allocation of their tithes. What is your views on this? I'm just so disheartened I'm thinking that my foray back into Christianity was a mistake. I understand that pastors need to make a living but this seems…excessive, especially when we have such a weak service division. 
Sorry if this seems long-winded and scattered, just trying to get my thoughts out there. I'm not saying that pastors should live with vows of poverty but that is a hell of a salary!
Why are churches not transparent with the salaries of pastors?
Most charities are subject to some level of transparency, but not churches.  That leaves it up to the members to demand transparency.  If you meet resistance from the leadership, maybe you might consider that rather than a sheep who is being fed, you are one that is being shorn.
L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology made the following comment, was quoted in the Forbes article:
L Ron Hubbard is reputed to have remarked to fellow author Theodore Sturgeon " Y'know, we're all wasting our time writing this hack science fiction,  You wanta make real money, you gotta start a religion ".  It would get even better.  The thirty year war that his religion, Scientology, waged with the IRS ended in 1993 with Scientology organizations being recognized as churches.
Churches are exempt from filing Form 990 which is required of non profit organization. These forms give information on the salaries of the leaders of such groups. You can read about this in Court Rules Churches Can Continue To Conceal Financial Information
This lack of transparency encourages the wrong people to enter the ministry.
From the 2014 Forbes article:
The strongest voice I have noted for church financial transparency is that of Reverend Frank Benson Jones.  In his book Stop The Prosperity Preachers he argues that lack of transparency is one of the things that draws the wrong type of people into ministry.  He believes that if the profits were removed, only prophets would remain.
Non-disclosure agreements in churches are red flags.
I have heard of some churches that require the members of the staff to sign non-disclosure agreements, and that is a sure sign the church is doing something wrong. Requiring churches and religious organizations to file an IRS form 990 would in no way impede the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion, but it would help to expose those greedy preachers who are using the constitution to conceal their improper accumulation of wealth at the expense of American citizens.
Reverend Jones finds prosperity preachers forming something of a mutual admiration society to keep their con going.
Any evangelist who preached to a congregation that the pastor should obey 2 Corinthians 8:20-21 by giving full financial disclosure to the congregation would not be invited back to that church and would probably be put on the undesirable list by other prosperity preachers who heard of the evangelist’s message. Any evangelist who is known for failing to support a pastor’s right to maintain the confidentiality of a church’s finances would be committing economic suicide and would eventually not be welcomed by the prosperity preachers who could afford to give such an evangelist the largest offerings.
Why should we know the salaries of Congress but not our pastors? 
I find it strange and appalling that the salary of the president of the United States is made public; the salaries of the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives are made public; the salaries of every state governor are made public; but the salaries of pastors and church employees are kept confidential and top secret.
The large salaries of pastors and leaders of Christian non-profits are embarrassing.
Franklin Graham’s annual compensation of $880,000, revealed in a Charlotte Observer story, has some worrying that too many top Christian nonprofit leaders as well as pastors are seeing themselves as CEOs instead of as God’s servants.
…CEOs at the top 50 U.S. charities, including Samaritan’s Purse, earn in the $350,000 to $450,000 range, which makes Graham’s $622,000 salary from his aid organization alone about 40 percent to 50 percent higher than average, according to a Forbes story. He receives the rest of his $258,000 compensation as CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
A spokesman for Franklin Graham said his compensation was determined by independent commissions that compared similar organizations’ top salaries. Graham was not available to answer questions.
…In a 2011 comparison of megachurch pastors’ salaries, two senior pastors made $1 million and $1.1 million. Others were a fourth to less than half of that.
Among the exceptions: Southern Baptist the Rev. Ed Young, senior pastor at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, pulled in well over $1 million, according to a 2012 Dallas television news report. And in 2013, his last year as pastor at Seattle’s Mars Hill Church, the Rev. Mark Driscoll was drawing a $607,000 package, with a $150,000 raise promised.
Taxpayers are subsidizing these salaries.
Do you know what the federal nondistribution constraint is? 
“It’s a moral issue particularly for a man of faith,” Pablo Eisenberg, a senior fellow at the Georgetown University Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership, told the Observer. “And also you have to remember that (compensation is) partly paid for by the taxpayer. In a sense, we the taxpayers are subsidizing Frank Graham’s salary and his relatives who are paid.”
Nonprofits are governed by the federal nondistribution constraint, which specifies that in return for tax-exempt status, they will use donations for the good of clients and not distribute excessive amounts to those who oversee the organization, Dixon said.
“I don’t have a problem with people like Franklin making so much money as long as the janitor is making $60,000 to $80,000, a good living wage,” she said.
How is it done in the UK?
One of our readers sent me this comment a few minutes ago. I doubt Ed Young JR or Steven Furtick would set up shop  in the UK?
In the UK, virtually all churches are “charities”, giving the churches and also some of their donors tax benefits. As charities, the churches require to file annual accounts, which are accessible to the public online at the Government charities website. As I understand it, churches which are charities require to disclose in their accounts individuals who receive more than £60,000 per year from the church-this is disclosed by numbers of individuals rather than names or job titles, and it is disclosed against increasing increments of £10,000.
If one assumes that the senior pastor is the highest earner in the church, then the senior pastor’s salary can be identified to the nearest £10,000 increment, provided the senior pastor is paid above £60,000. Some churches which are charities actually include their annual accounts on their church websites and/or identify those receiving £60,000 or more by name or job title.
An experiment for you to carry out in your church.
in 2010, Stuff Christian Culture Like posted Concealing the Pastor's Salary.
Here is a fun experiment you can try with any church of your choosing. Ask to see their yearly financial report. They will either ignore you or provide you with a Word document. If you receive a document it might have one big number covering all salaries and you have no way of knowing what each staff member is paid, let alone their patriarch. Now here is where it gets interesting. If you inquire further, there's an excellent chance they will bristle and then shame you for asking. Stand strong
Do not fall for the old "The pastor is accountable to a board of trustees " shtick.
If a church has a tight reign on their spending disclosure, they often claim that their church financial records are accountable to a board of trustees. If you press further, you will likely find that said trustees live out of state and also pastor their own megachurches. What was that? My spidey sense is tingling! Or maybe it was just my imagination. No wait…now the lead pastor is getting into his Escalade and heading home to his gated community. Yeah. That was my spidey sense, all right.
Do you want to see how this works? TWW posted Elevation Church: Bamboozled by Steven Furtick’s Ridiculous Compensation Committee? Here is an excerpt.
Furtick, along with his buddy, the erstwhile "Chunks," refuse to tell you, their church contributors, including the leadership, how much money Furtick (and probably "Chunks" as well) is paid by Elevation. Furtick claims to be overseen by an "appointed" group of mega church pals to set his salary and benefits. I guess only those who labor daily in the fruitful vineyards are capable of understanding the intricacies of pastor wealth acquisition and how it is tied to the gospel.
One would assume that Furtick would go to great lengths to have some folks on the committee who are not "raking it in." That does not seem to be the case.
…So who are these guys?
Ed Young Jr: Fellowship Church, Dallas/Grapevine, TX
Perry Noble: NewSpring Church, Anderson, SC
Stovall Weems : Celebration Church, Jacksonville, FL
Kevin Gerald : Champions Center, Seattle, WA
Jack Graham Prestonwood Baptist, Dallas/Plano,TX
My thoughts on the matter
Until I was a member of Ed Young JR's church, I never questioned the salaries of pastors. I watched the lifestyle Ed and his wife were living and became suspicious. Of course, I couldn't find out his salary. I quit shortly thereafter.
Another former pastor had lots of vacation time, spoke at lots of conferences, and always flew on the church's dime to *encourage* the missionaries all over the world. At that church I learned he was making $150,000/yr but he got other income from his outside conferences, book deals, and free trips all around the world. I wonder if writing books and going to conferences was on the church's time. I believe some pastors, including this one, double and triple dip. I quit that church as well.
There is one well known pastor here in the Triangle who lives in a $600,000 home, gets toted around in private jets, speaks all over the place for good money and also published books. I do not go to his church but I know that members cannot access his salary.
I believe that members who give money to a church have a right to know what the pastor makes. Why should I give money to people I do not know if they will not tell me how it is spent. A corollary: Why should I sign a membership covenant to be under the *authority* not someone I do not know.
Some churches ask a lot of people. Be submissive to us, give money to us and do what we say or we will discipline you. On the other hand, there are churches in which the pastors lead humble, live in modest homes and drive second hand cars. In those circumstances, I do not bother to check their salaries although I could.
If you are in a church in which you suspect the pastor is living large at your expense and you cannot find out his salary, get out of that church or stop giving. Give your money to nonprofits which must disclose the salaries of the leaders. 
Church members should say that they won't give until they know the salaries of the leaders.
So what say you?