The Goldbelt Inc. Board of Directors amended a scheduled pay raise for its board members, following concerns from shareholders about the amount of the raise.
In a letter to shareholders, Board Chairman Todd Antioquia said the board voted Friday during a board meeting to reduce members’ compensation from $5,000 to $3,000. Additionally, members will no longer receive fees for travel, committee meetings and shareholder events. Members would receive a $500 meetings fee, the letter said.
Shareholders and even some board members had publicly expressed concern at the amount of the pay raise, and some had alleged the increase had not gone through the proper committees or been thoroughly vetted.
Antioquia, who was elected as board chairman at a special meeting on Dec. 27, said that while shareholder concerns certainly factored in to the board’s decision, that was not the only reason for the reduction.
“The process prior to me joining the board has not been the catalyst to these discussions nor the action that we took,” Antioquia told the Empire in an interview Tuesday. “We have board members that felt strongly just like shareholders that we needed to look at compensation holistically.”
Conversations around board member compensation had been taking place for months, Antioquia said.
Additionally, Antioquia said a new committee structure is now in place to better distribute decision-making amongst the board members.
“Each (board member) is going to serve on at least three, and in some cases, four committees,” Antioquia said. “A number of committees that were ad hoc that were made standing committees.”
Comments posted to Goldbelt’s Facebook page reacting to the Friday letter were mostly positive, with many people thanking board members for the changes.
But some shareholders still have their reservations. Ray Austin, who had previously raised concerns about the board’s transparency with the Empire, said he saw this as only partially a step in the right direction.
“Only if I see written resolutions that justified this,” Austin said about the amended pay raise. “We own the corporation, they work for the owners and it’s our job to hold them accountable.”
Austin said he wanted to see the board become more transparent.
The board follows all the rules laid out by the Banking and Securities division at the Department of Commerce.
Alaska Native corporations are like any other corporation in Alaska and must comply with the Alaska Corporations Code, according to Leif Haugen, chief of enforcement at Banking and Securities.
“A corporation organized under this chapter shall keep correct and complete books and records of account, minutes of proceedings of its shareholders, board, and committees of the board,” the law says.
The minutes from board meetings are available to shareholders through in-person request, said McHugh Pierre, Goldbelt CEO.
“It’s important to say, we’re not government,” Pierre said. “A lot of our shareholders are used to dealing with government organizations. We’re not government, we’re a business.”
Despite not having the same disclosure requirements as a government entity, Pierre said it was important the corporation respond to shareholder needs and make information available.
Goldbelt will be holding its annual shareholder meeting in July, Pierre said, at which three board seats will be up for election. The Goldbelt board has nine members, each with three-year terms, according to Pierre.
• Contact reporter Peter Segall at 523-2228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.