Tomorrow night, the city is poised to do two completely contrary things: first they will vote to collect $900,000-plus a year off taxpayers by RAISING YOUR UTILITY TAX, saying they are broke and need the money to pay salaries. Then they will turn around and hand it to the Chico Creek Nature Center.
Okay, it’s not THAT simple, but you can follow along. See, over 5 years ago, the city made a deal with Tom Haithcock and Dave Guzzetti and John Merz to loan the Nature Center, a PAC run by the aforementioned people and their friends, EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS to build the Taj Majal in the Park – a new “learning center” to which only Nature Center personnel hold the key. This building is not even open to the public. It is used by the NC to run a “school” by which they also suck in a good hundred grand a year, by my estimates. They’ve never been asked to show their books.
In addition, we taxpayers have been paying Haithcock’s $50,000+ salary and benefits all these years with Community Block Grant Funding money. This is the same pot they take out of to pay for garbage like “Artoberfest”.
Well, the city started to cut the grant funding – down from $60-something-thousand to about $42,000 a year. So, Haithcock was faced with fundraising his own salary – like every other “non-profit” – or he could quit. If you know Haitcock, you were not surprised when he quit. He tried to go out like the Lorax, but when he stamped his foot, he just ended up standing there looking like a big spoiled brat.
Well, they hired a new front for their operation – Courtney Farrell – who is going before the council tomorrow night to ask that the loan payments be deferred, AGAIN. In the five or so years since they took $800,000 from the city pot, they have not paid one red cent, not principle or interest. But every year they take CBGF money to pay their director, because they can’t get enough support in the community to pay her salary. And benefits, yeah, she gets benefits. You pay for it.
I took my kids to the Nature Center “camp” before Haithcock took over – it was nice but not really worth the $50/week for a half-day price tag. A full day was $80/week. That was over 10 years ago. Now they charge $135 for a week!
Those camps were full, and in passing, I see they still get plenty of kids. But they are not being asked to present these figures – Haithcock got away with a hastily scrawled list of half-baked figures – and in his case, I think the word “baked” is applicable – he was just handing them amounts, I wonder if he even knew exactly how much the center was taking in and how much it was spending. Nobody pressed him for his tax filings or anything like that. He just made the shit up and handed it over, and they patted him on the head and handed him 10’s of thousands of your money.
So, here we go again. They want to raise your phone bill to hand money to their friends.