Music Center Management and Foundation

Post of article at Brown County Matters 

Interesting. Is allowing non-elected officials to decide how best to spend revenue from a government-owned and operated facility, appropriate?

The appropriate (standard) process. County government via “elected officials,” routinely provide the extra funding, in this case $38,825.50, to supplement grants that support core government services such as radios for the fire departments.

Save-Your-Seat
. Currently, the cost to “Save-Your-Seat” for a prime location is $600.00. The Music Center is a county government-owned and operated venue. “Non-elected” officials determining how best to spend revenue from the venue may be illegal or at a minimum, inappropriate. This would be a question for the County attorneys, State Board of Accounts, elected officials, and the citizens.

In the case of the Save-Your-Seat program, Commissioner Biddle mentioned at tonight’s (Dec 27, 2022) Commissioner meeting that a financial account for this program was initially established by the Foundation that may have allowed for an individual to take a tax deduction. This arrangement has been referred to as a “pass-through.” She also stated that the Foundation had the knowledge to identify an appropriate recipient.

If individuals are receiving a value for a donation (seat choice for example), it may not be tax deductible and if not and it was taken, an amended individual tax return may be required.

Admin Agreement
. The article also references an administrative agreement. The initial agreement was signed by Commissioner Biddle who also served on the Music Center management group. The amendment to the agreement was signed by Commissioner Pittman. This agreement identifies that the Foundation will receive 75% of the excess profits and the county 25%. Excess profits are determined by the non-elected officials. This admin agreement was discussed at county meetings but the county council and commissioners “did not take a Vote” to approve the agreement thus delegating to non-elected officials a responsibility that may not be supported by law.

Budget
. Note also the County Council has the legal requirement to review and approve how revenue from the innkeepers tax will be spent which can affect how much “profit” is returned to the taxpayers. The Convention Visitors Commission (CVC) is a 5 member board responsible for developing and managing the budget for the revenue received from the innkeepers tax. This revenue is used as collateral for the loan to build the Music Center and to support operations. Revenue is also distributed to the Convention Visitors Bureau (CVB). The CVB was created in 1984 to market tourism. The council historically has applied a much lower standard of review on the CVC budget than they do for the other offices. This practice needs to be reviewed – especially given the creation of the Music Center and the possibility of this venue providing a new revenue source for the county.
Regarding the Save-the-Seat program, I have asked for additional information from the Music Center officials and from the Foundation who have yet to respond to my specific questions. A request for public information from a government organization allows for up to 30 days for a response.

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