Another $4 million taxpayer subsidy down the drain

by John Washington on June 23, 2016

SCC_CMYKTuesday night the Scottsdale City Council and Mayor Jim Lane voted to flush another $4 million of your money down the award-winning toilets of the Scottsdale Cultural Council.

Fiscal Year 2016/17 Scottsdale Cultural Council Financial Participation Agreement – Approved on Consent.

Request: Adopt Resolution No. 10452 authorizing Agreement No. 2016-065-COS, an annual financial participation agreement with the Scottsdale Cultural Council, in the amount of $4,513,288 to be allocated for activities consistent with Management Services Agreement No. 2008-048-COS.

Staff Contact(s): Karen Churchard, Tourism and Events Director, 480-312-2890, kchurchard@scottsdaleaz.gov

Yes, this is the same mayor and city council that convinced you to vote to borrow (via bonding) $100 million for infrastructure that should have been paid for out of development fees and ongoing tax revenue, like, for example, $12 million to patch potholes.

Well, this culture thing must be important, right? Not so much.

The Scottsdale Cultural Council is a private business which enjoys a 20-year, no-bid city contract. It also occupies millions of dollars’ worth of taxpayer-owned real estate for free, and the city even kicks in the lion’s share of the maintenance costs.

On top of all that, they receive an all-but-guaranteed $4 million CASH SUBSIDY…EVERY YEAR.

Well surely they do SOMETHING to earn all that, right? Not that I can see. Their contract has zero objective performance metrics. The could put on not a single performance or exhibit, and they would be in compliance. Oh sure, they put on SOME programming. But it’s what the board of trustees wants to see, not programming that actually has to sell tickets and return enough to cover the costs of putting it on–let alone (heaven forbid) return some money to the city treasury.

So, how the hell does this bad-business arrangement continue? Because Mayor Jim Lane and his council cronies have never seriously called it into question. They’ve never made any meaningful effort to ensure the taxpayers get their money’s worth. It helps that the SCC board of trustees makes a lot of campaign contributions. And that councilman David Smith’s wife is on that board.

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