A recent tip to the GUARDIAN confirms our fears about Boise City’s urban renewal agency operating without oversight or accountability to the citizens.
The CCDC (Capitol City Development Corp.) is funded by property taxes and income from publicly owned parking facilities in the downtown area of Boise. In short, the funds come from taxes on new improvements and appreciation to privately owned real estate within the urban renewal district. This is called the TAX INCREMENT.
The GUARDIAN thinks it is simply inappropriate for taxpayer dollars to be spent for membership in the exclusive private ARID CLUB for CCDC Director Phil Kushlan.
For those that don’t know, the Arid Club sits along the Greenbelt along River Street and is the private lair of most of Boise’s millionaires. The membership list is a virtual “who’s who” of the movers and shakers of the area. For many years it was a male only club, but has changed with the times. Membership is by invitation only, costs $2500 initiation, $180 per month, and a minimum of $1500 a year in food and drinks. By our calculations it costs $3660 a year to belong after any up front costs and before meal costs.
We don’t claim Kushlan has done anything wrong, but with a salary reputed to be pushing $130,000 there is no need for public money to pay his $180 monthly dues to an exclusive private club.
Our problem in general is that CCDC has paid for this membership for years, spending THOUSANDS of dollars annually…and apparently none of the board members or auditors question the practice. Our conclusions are based on records we obtained from the agency under the open records law.
We ran the discovery past several people and here’s what we got:
–A CPA tells us private club memberships are simply not allowed as tax deductions by the IRS. While meals could be construed to be legitimate “business expenses” the reimbursement for dues should be declared as additional taxable income on IRS form 1099 or W2. We have no way of knowing how the agency or Kushlan handles those records.
–Boise City Council president Elaine Clegg has told the GUARDIAN she considers the two city councilors who sit on the CCDC board to provide oversight. She offered a tepid defense of Kushlan’s membership, referred us to Councilor Dave Eberle for comment, but noted no other city department heads or elected officials are reimbursed for membership at the Arid Club.
–Councilor Eberle said he doesn’t routinely concern himself with $180 expenditures in the big picture, but declared he would be asking some probing questions about the Arid Club expenditures.
–Ada County does not allow ANY payment for private memberships. All areas of government pay for professional memberships and dues like chiefs of police, assessors, and various associations.
–An elected official in another city told us it was “flat wrong” to pay for private club memberships with public money.
–An attorney called it “stinky” and questioned the need to do the public’s business at a private club.
In summary, we feel the fact that Kushlan has belonged to the exclusive private club at taxpayer expense with the full knowledge and consent of the CCDC board for many years is a strong indicator of the agency’s loyalties–to the upper crust of our society and not the citizens.
The CCDC was created to fight blight and decay and we feel it has lost its bearings. The Arid club is far from blight and decay.
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