Posted on February 8, 2005

King Center Funds in a Fix

Ernie Suggs and Mae Gentry, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Feb. 5

In recent years, the King Center has laid off many of its key workers, watched its net worth drop by half and mortgaged the historic home where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was born.

But the center paid King’s sons, who are its top two executives, healthy six-figure salaries that rank far above the norm for comparable groups in Atlanta.

Martin Luther King III, who took over as the center’s CEO in January 2004, was paid a salary of $150,000 last year, King Center managing director Rosalind McGinnis said in written responses to a reporter’s questions last year.

His younger brother, Dexter King, the center’s chief operating officer and chairman of the board, is paid the same salary he was paid previously when he was CEO, McGinnis said. Tax records show the center paid Dexter King $179,933 when he was CEO in 2003, plus $8,708 in benefits and deferred compensation.

That salary was more than twice the median pay for CEOs running other nonprofits organized for educational purposes in Atlanta, according to data compiled by Guidestar, a Williamsburg, Va.-based clearinghouse for information on nonprofit organizations.

Now the Auburn Avenue center faces a potentially staggering bill to repair deteriorating buildings, according to an assessment released last week by the National Park Service.

The center has not responded publicly to the report, but former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young, a member of its board, says it doesn’t have the estimated $11.6 million needed to make the improvements.