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Guest Editorial

Jeffrey Brueningsen

Thanks to The Park Record for the letters and editorials outlining, as the IRS might say, inurnment and excessive compensation occurring with the Feulners at the nonprofit charity Community Wireless of Park City, Inc. (KPCW, KCPW and 1010 AM). Here are some uncomfortable facts that rebut the Schirf, Calder and Doilney editorials.

"Blair’s "ashes and sackcloth" myth of lifelong poverty is belied by his published statements. While he complains that his family pulled down "only" $26,978 a year (Calder editorial), figures quoted on the station’s own Web site show Park City’s "medium (sic) household income" in 1980 to be $20,064. So when the town had a "depressed" economy, with homes selling for under $100,000, the Feulners were already taking in $7,000 more from a nonprofit charity than Parkites in the private sector. And don’t forget& by the end of the first decade, according to Tom Calder’s figures, they were giving themselves $50,104 each!

"KPCW Board President Tom Calder says the Feulner’s contributed nothing to the $18,800 used to buy the Coalville radio license. The FCC ruled the Feulners had no percentage of ownership at the transfer of the license. It was paid for by, and is a wholly owned asset of, Community Wireless, Inc., a 501 c 3 tax-exempt charity. When Tom and Blair tell you the Feulners could have taken 51 percent of the station’s eventual sale price, they "forgot" to tell you the origin of that figure. Buried in the Community Wireless 2004 Financial Statement is& "If their employment was terminated, an interest would be distributed as part of their severance." They weren’t terminated but took almost a million anyway.

"During two obviously staged call-in radio shows, it was revealed KCPW has always been in the red because, they claim, after 13 years it is still a "start-up."

"On the same shows they claimed 1010 AM would also never make money because it, too, was a "start-up."

"On their Web site’s "Letter from the President," they claim KCPW will lose $450,000 this year, $150,000 in 2006, $125,000 in 2008 and $125,000 in 2009& $850,000 total. Interestingly, this is almost the same amount the Feulners as secretary and treasurer gave themselves. Pledge Week contributors are further in the hole $200,000 a year for the 25-year bond issue purchasing the 1010 AM station, or $5 million total.

"Calder and Doilney’s using a $221,000 salary at a Salt Lake commercial station as a comparable, justifying Blair’s $140,000 current pay, violates the IRS’s general rule of nonprofit compensation. Pay must be based on "Like services by like organizations in like circumstances." In other words, compare nonprofits to nonprofits. Nonprofit station managers in Salt Lake get between $46,350 and $65,688 a year. To question the excessive compensation further, the Feulners’ $1,175,000 year, reported by the Tribune, exceeds the salaries of the top four NPR executives& combined!

"Dissenting nonprofits and station employees afraid of reprisals can now safely comment confidentially at the blairrichproject@msn.com

A publication on the IRS Web site states, "One enduring method of siphoning off an exempt organization’s assets is the device of excessive compensation." Like many of you, I think it’s a breach of fiduciary responsibility to give $50,000 "consulting" fees to family members, 40 percent pay raises (2001-2003) and $895,000 bonuses with the deficits this tax-exempt is generating. Arguably, this ocean of red ink is worsened by the Feulners’ excessive compensation. Give the money back to our hometown, nonprofit charity& KPCW/KCPW.

Jeffrey Brueningsen is a nine-year resident of Park City, a 2001 city council candidate and an advocate for public safety and finance issues.


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