SCOTTSDALE INDEPENDENT By David Smith Nov 6th, 2015
Councilman Phillips has described himself as the “watchdog” for the spending of taxpayer money.
In that self-appointed role, he was quoted recently in the Scottsdale Independent saying, “We (Scottsdale City Council) give the cultural council $4.3 million of your (Scottsdale citizens’) tax dollars every year. If they are short of funds we should be auditing their books, not giving them more money. Does the Cultural Council operate at a loss each year? I don’t know, but we should be scrutinizing their records before handing them another $3 million of your tax dollars.”
Either Councilman Phillips doesn’t know the facts — as his comment suggests — or he is willfully distorting the facts to excite a public reaction for political reasons. In the interest of informing readers, here are the facts:
- First: The City Council does not “give” the Cultural Council $4.3 million of your tax dollars. The money paid by the city is according to a written, legal contract covering the management and administration of the city’s performing arts facilities, contemporary arts museum and public art programs. Previous discussions have made clear that if these management services are not performed by the Cultural Council, they will have to be performed by another vendor or by the city itself. In either alternative, several million dollars of supportive private donations would likely evaporate.
- Second: The Cultural Council does not operate at a loss. It is a nonprofit corporation whose books are audited each year by an independent public accounting firm. These independently prepared financial reports are routinely made available to the City Council every year. Furthermore, the Scottsdale Cultural Council is periodically audited by the City’s own Internal Audit group whose reports are public records.
- Third: Council is not being asked to consider giving the Cultural Council another $3 million. Next Tuesday, the council will consider two requests from the Cultural Council: Designate $1.3 million of capital monies to renovate the city-owned facilities which the Cultural Council is contracted to manage. The City Council presentation makes clear the management services agreement is not intended to require the Cultural Council to make capital improvements to the city-owned facilities. And, designate $.3 million as a supplement to the Cultural Council management services agreement. The City Council presentation makes clear if the management services agreement with the Cultural Council had been increased by the anticipated 3 percent each year the contract amount today would be $0.8 million per year higher.