Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie ‘Wall Street’. Fast forward 34 years to this Tuesday in Naperville when the Naperville city council will be deciding whether or not to increase funding to Century Walk from the current $50,000 per year to $150,000.
Century Walk curates and maintains public art in Naperville. City funds are provided to Century Walk from the SECA commission (Special Events and Cultural Amenities) with revenue generated from the 1% tax on food and beverages. Century Walk, a non-profit, pays its president, Brand Bobosky, an executive compensation, along with rental fees to his real estate brokerage company.
Last March, Century Walk (Bob Bobosky) requested the city allocate 10% of its food and beverage tax revenue or $200,000, whichever is greater, for public art. At that time four council members were willing to grant the request, however five council members, asked for the issue to be tabled, which it was.
Rather than asking for just 10% of SECA funds, why not simply ask for 100%. I think it was Shakespeare who said, “if you’ve got a sucker on the line, just keep reeling him in”. I may be incorrect, but you get the idea. Gordon Gykko would agree with Century Walk.
The problem doesn’t rest with Brand Bobosky; he’s simply acting in the best interest of Century Walk, and possibly for himself. The problem rests with Naperville council members other than Ian Holzhauer, Patrick Kelly, and Teresa Sullivan. The council controls the check book. Holzhauer, Kelly and Sullivan know that questions need to be answered, including:
- Why is the % of non-art expense to revenues so high, averaging 45% when 20% is considered reasonable?
- Why is Century Walk paying an average of $12,000 a year to a real estate brokerage company?
- What does documentation and other administrative tasks represent?
- What is the advertising expense being spent on?
- How can the city ensure tax dollars are actually being spent only for capital costs rather than management and rental fees?
It’s very possible these questions can be answered satisfactorily, however they need to be asked.
Naperville resident, Lisa Rose, summed up the issue concisely and accurately in Naperville Sun’s ‘Letters to the editor’ by saying, “The primary duty of the Council is the City’s budget. They have a fiduciary responsibility to spend our tax dollars wisely”.
A most important question remains unanswered. A task force was created to review Century Walk’s request. The report is due in the fall. Why not wait for the report; what’s the rush?