Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wonderscope Does Not Need City's Money

At last week's committee meeting Jeff Vaught voiced exception to the city giving Wonderscope $10,000.

Hmmmm, why does that sound familiar?  Oh, I know why.  Because it was brought up many times in the past, most notably at the 7/27/09 budget hearing. Hmmm, wasn't that the last budget hearing before Vaught decided to run for office?  Guess he wasn't there or at the committee meetings leading up to it.  Oh, maybe he read about it here, in my post of 7/29/09?  Also note two things about Dawn Kuhn.  Previously she had said that Wonderscope's financial records were private.  Wrongo, charity organization IRS Form 990's have to be made available to the public.  Also, last week Kuhn got very defensive about Wonderscope, again.  Could her reaction be because maybe she has had a long term personal friendship with a member of their board?  Who knows?

Anyway, below is a copy of part of the minutes from 7/27/09.  Thank you to Vaught for agreeing with me.  Oh, and let's give that money to Old Shawnee Town

Oh, the minutes mention the form 990's up to 2007, with the 2008 and 2009 forms not available.  Those are now available but the 2010 and 2011 forms are not.............

RAY ERLICHMAN stated something happened at one of the budget meetings a few weeks ago and a comment was made about the contribution the City makes to Wonderscope. He stated there were four specific comments made by four specific individuals sitting up there tonight. He stated Councilmember Pflumm was first and said he wanted to see the books. He stated Councilmember Distler said “They are like every other tax exempt organization and their information has to be made available just like the United Way”. He stated Councilmember Kuhn said, “No, they do not have to make their information available, because they are private.” He stated Mayor Meyers said, “If anyone wants to take the time to look for it, there are forms out there they can look at.”

RAY ERLICHMAN stated Wonderscope’s records are not private. He presented a blank IRS Form 990. He stated right underneath the year it reads Open to public inspection. He stated anyone who is a 501C organization that files for tax exempt status, their complete tax filing, including all addendums, schedules, salaries, everything else has to be made public.

RAY ERLICHMAN stated just to make sure there is no concern or question, he presented a copy from the IRS’s own website that basically says this form has to be made available to the public, not ‘can’, ‘may’, ‘will’, ‘at the discretion of any individual person’. He stated with that in mind, he pulled out Wonderscope’s forms for 2007 and 2006. He stated the 2008 forms are not yet available online and naturally the 2009 forms will not be filed until next year. He stated the 2008 forms would have been filed this April, unless they filed for an extension.

RAY ERLICHMAN stated there were two things on there that bothered him and he realizes that the contribution to Wonderscope for 2010 is scheduled to be $10,000.

Councilmember Straub stated it is scheduled at $20,000 on the budget.

Mayor Meyers stated it was changed to $10,000.

RAY ERLICHMAN stated Councilmember Pflumm is going to get almost what he wants.

City Manager Gonzales stated she might add that the Council has received that information and also Chairman Tubbesing provided a website that included very detailed budget information, because she is unsure what specifics Mr. Erlichman plans on talking about this evening.

RAY ERLICHMAN stated he has one question of concern. He stated if the Council already has that information that is fine, but has a question that bothers him.

Councilmember Straub stated he did not receive that information and asked if it was sent to all Council people.

City Manager Gonzales stated it was sent in an email with the link to the website that included the Wonderscope budget.

RAY ERLICHMAN stated at then end of 2007, there were net assets of about $165,000. He stated that is what the line says, though he is not an accountant. He stated his concern is with those kinds of assets, the Executive Director was given $60,564 in 2007 and in the 2006 filing that figure was little over $52,000, so that worked out to something like a 15% increase. He stated even though with certain dollars amounts, the $10,000 the City is going to contribute to them, some people might say that is a drop in the bucket on a $76 million budget.

RAY ERLICHMAN stated his concern is if the organization has $160,000+ assets at the end of the year and they can afford to give their Executive Director a 14% increase and he does not know yet what they received as an increase in 2008 or what they are getting in 2009, why do they need the City’s lousy $10,000. He stated the $10,000 that they want to give them would take care of four or five years of snow removal for the elderly. He stated that $10,000 is 20% of what the City just got hit with for the revitalization out there on Monticello Road. He stated that was a $50,000 bill the City was not planning on and here is 20% of that bill.