MONTPELIER — He’s still in the 1 percent, but a weak commercial real estate market has dealt a blow to the personal fortunes of Gov. Peter Shumlin, who has watched his income drop by nearly half since winning election to the office in 2010.
And though Shumlin’s presumptive Republican challenger isn’t in the same income bracket as the Democratic incumbent, Randy Brock pulled down a healthy $268,000 last year, the vast majority of which came from investment income.
According to tax returns provided to the Vermont Press Bureau Wednesday, Shumlin pulled down slightly more than $500,000 in 2011, a far cry from the approximately $950,000 he and his wife, Deborah Holway, earned in 2009.
Declining income from the couple’s real estate holdings accounts for the lion’s share of the drop off. In 2009, their rental properties yielded about $617,000. Last year, they took in only $125,000.
Though they share a legal residence in Putney, the couple has been separated for a few years. Peter Shumlin lives in Montpelier now. He said he and his wife “are great friends.”
“Things are tough in commercial real estate right now and we’ve got a lot of vacant space in southern Vermont,” Shumlin said. “We’re actually starting to convert commercial space into residential units right now, so we’re making adjustments based on the market.”
Brock’s income derives primarily from investment income and dividends, though he drew about $15,000 in pension and annuities and another $20,000 from a $3 million rental property he owns in Naples, Fla.
A successful businessman, Brock was founder and CEO of a successful security services firm, which he sold before joining Fidelity Investments. He retired from the financial powerhouse as executive vice president of risk oversight.
“I think my story shows that a kid from a relatively modest background who works hard can do well,” said Brock, who filed jointly with his wife, Andrea Forrest. “I’m very lucky, but prudence, risk management, and thrift also played roles.”
Aside from his real estate income, Shumlin reported about $263,000 in wages, about half of which comes from his $142,000 governor’s salary. The remainder is from his family business, Putney Student Travel.
Shumlin said he no longer works for the family business, but that he drew down “tenure pay” last year, something that will cease in 2012. Shumlin said he’s doing just fine financially, 50 percent decline in income notwithstanding.
“As a kid that was born and raised in this state, I have been extraordinarily fortunate building businesses in Vermont,” Shumlin said by phone Wednesday. “And my dream is to have the privilege of serving as governor, and to be able to create an economy where more Vermont kids can enjoy this kind of success.”
Shumlin said his brother Jeff has largely taken over the family real estate venture while he focuses on public service.
Brock’s financial statement shows $8.5 million in assets and $2.5 million in liabilities for a net worth of approximately $6 million. His holdings include the $3 million vacation property, as well as $3 million in marketable and restricted securities and $230,000 in cash.
Brock’s home, cottage and land in Swanton are valued at $1.35 million. He said his holdings took a “severe” hit during the last recession. He has a $1.8 million mortgage on the Florida property.
“I saw large percentage of net worth disappear because of the financial meltdown we had — not that other Vermonters didn’t as well,” Brock said. “Certainly with my higher net income though, the suffering is not as acute as it is to someone who’s living paycheck to paycheck. And it’s that kind of person that I’m concerned about.”
Shumlin’s returns didn’t include a financial report. However an accounting of his assets and liabilities from 2010 pegged his net worth at about $10 million. Shumlin’s holdings included 17 properties valued at slightly more than $4.5 million, and another $5.1 million in cash, equities and 401k retirement accounts.
Shumlin said there have been no substantive changes to his holdings since 2010.
Despite his considerable wealth, Shumlin said he hasn’t lost sight of the plight of workaday Vermont families. Median household income in Vermont is about $51,000, according to the latest Census figures.
“I used to live paycheck to paycheck. I didn’t grow up with money, I got it the old-fashioned way,” Shumlin said. “I know that Vermonters haven’t struggled financially as much as they have during this past recession since the Great Depression. These are really tough times and my job is to try to create jobs and lift incomes.”
peter.hirschfeld@ timesargus.comMORE IN Vermont News
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