The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
Over the last two weeks, I've written letters about the information on the uses of Tourism Tax money, as furnished by the Greater Warrensburg Area Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center (GWACC&VC). Now, I'd like to discuss some anomalies in their financial reports.
According to the financial report for the year ending 9/30/99, they had started with $2,657.18, taken in $46,592.10 (not counting their 20% rake-off) and spent $26,142.94. That would add up to a fund balance of $23,106.32. Their report for the year ending 9/30/00 indicates they had opening balance of $7,060.77. Somehow, the remaining $16,045.55 has vanished; the minutes of the Advisory Board do not explain what happened to it.
The report for the year ending 9/30/00 has some other anomalies. They received $57,727.82 in lodging tax money, of which they immediately diverted 20% to other Chamber programs (my calculator says it was over 23%) leaving $44,354.42 available. They also received $5,305.62 for the cooperative marketing project, giving them $49,660.04 in new money to be spent on tourism. They spent $45,173.82, leaving them a net of $4,485.12. However, they reported only a net of $2,227.44 - another $2000+ gone into limbo. Plus, according to earlier reports they charged the tourism fund almost $1,200 for utilities, $960 for postage, and $2,700 for "other."
For the current year, they've changed their accounting system but not haven't improved the accuracy of their reports. The as-of July report for the current year continues the problem with understated carryovers. Their total for the 20% rake-off exceeds the sum of the monthly figures. They also have charged the tourism fund almost $1,500 for "building expense," which rationally should be part of the 20% rake-off. They show a total of $139.74 spent on "other projects" without showing any monthly expense. So far this year, they report receiving $45,490.41, spending $39,881.16, raking off $9,298.08 with a net income of $6,609.26. If you apply a calculator, this actually gives you a loss of $3,688.83, but why report even a temporary negative (which it likely is) when they can suddenly start using the carry-over figures?
On Monday, I sent them a follow-up request under the Sunshine Law. I asked to see any draft or unapproved Board minutes not provided initially, any written reports provided the City, and surveys provided and/or received under the cooperative marketing program. I may ask to see expenditure details at a later time. As always, I'm posting their documents and my analysis at my Tourism Tax Pages.
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