After closing for six months during the pandemic and laying off or furloughing 60 percent of its staff, the cash-starved 9/11 Memorial and Museum gave $1,000 bonuses to each of its 12 highest paid execs, The Post has learned.
The bonus brought the total compensation in 2020 for CEO Alice Greenwald, who recently announced she is stepping down, to $564,500, according to the organization’s latest IRS filing.
Built to remember the September 11, 2001, terror attacks and to honor the 2,958 people murdered, the memorial and museum took a big financial hit during the pandemic and is still struggling to recover.
The bonuses were funded by an anonymous donor and restricted to that purpose, said spokeswoman Lee Cochran.
“The donation was intended to recognize the exceptional dedication of a very hard-working staff” who ran the organization after COVID-19 forced a shutdown in March 2020 and produced virtual education programs during the closure, Cochran said.
Besides Greenwald, 11 top staffers who each collected $187,000 to $347,000 in 2020 also got the $1,000 bonus. Another 155 remaining employees received unspecified bonuses “based on duration of employment.” Cochran said. She would not disclose the amounts or total spent on bonuses. “Everyone got something.”
The salaries anger an advocacy group, 9/11 Parents & Families of Firefighters and World Trade Center Victims, which wants the National Park Service to run the site.
“This is a cash cow for the executives running the museum. Their salaries are exorbitant,” said retired FDNY Deputy Chief Jim Riches, the group’s chairman, whose firefighter son Jimmy Riches was killed on 9/11.
“It was built to honor the victims and tell the story of 9/11. They’re making money off the blood of my son. It’s a disgrace.”
During the museum’s shutdown, the sale of tickets and tours plunged from $74.7 million in 2019 to $11.2 million in 2020. After reopening, It rose to $18.9 million in 2021, Cochran said. That loss of that revenue, which covered 91 percent of operating expenses, was devastating.
Now the memorial and museum, which ended 2020 in the red – is pleading for taxpayer funds. It has been lobbying for a bill sponsored by upstate Rep. John Katko to require the US Department of Homeland Security to award a one-time grant of $5 million to $10 million for operations, maintenance and security.
The memorial, which is patrolled by both the NYPD and Port Authority Police, spends about $700,000 a month on private security as well, Cochran said.
Board member Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles Burlingame was a pilot of the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon, testified before a Congressional subcommittee last month that the extra security is crucial to thwart terror attacks.
“Our site is a place of great interest to people who would do us harm,” she said, recalliing the 2017 Halloween terror attack by a man who killed eight people when he drove a pickup truck down a bike path along the Hudson River near Ground Zero.
Riches’ 9/11 family group is urging Congress to reject the bid.
“Does the memorial and museum actually need $10 million to fund the private security guards, or does it need the money to offset its out-of-control salaries and expenses?” the group said in a press release. “Yet again, the 9/11 Memorial Museum is asking federal taxpayers to prop up their bloated and unsustainable budget.”
The memorial and museum’s expenses for 2020 came to $84.8 million, with $22.1 million going for employee salaries and benefits.
It ended the year with a $47 million deficit, but $29.2 million of that was depreciation of the building and equipment, officials said. The cash loss was $17.9 million.
The red ink would have been worse, but 139 individuals — mostly board members — kicked in donations of $5,000 and up. The board’s “emergency fundraising campaign” has collected about $45 million to date, Burlingame said.
A mystery donor who gave $10 million is not ex-Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Cochran said. Bloomberg, chairman of the board, previously loaned the organization $15 million, which has not been repaid.
In April 2020, the memorial and museum also received a $4.6 million loan from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. The funds lasted through June, Cochran said. The layoffs and furloughs were executed on July 1. The loan was forgiven last year.
Currently, 188 are on staff, down from 340 pre-pandemic.