Sunday, January 23, 2011

Freedom Center goes back to the teat

The gyrations of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center to grab more and more of our tax monies have become more desperate and more dramatic as the finances of the institution spiral downward.  Just in the past two weeks, City Council gave the NURFC yet another $300,000 taxpayer bailout and the NURFC’s renewed drive to become a full-time federal project was revealed.

First, a visit to its 2009 Federal 990 form, a document filed by non-profits and available to the public.  You can get your copy here.  A few highlights from that document:
·         The NURFC (page 9, Part VIII, line 2(a)) had revenue from admissions of only $525,690.  At the $12 adult admission price, that’s a mere 43,807 paying attendees for an entire year.   That’s 120 persons per day.  That’s less than the daily attendance at the basement-dwelling Cincinnati Bengals and fewer persons than the Reds attract to two average homes games.
·         The NURFC saw contributions in 2009 drop by more than half, from $6.1 million in 2008 to $2.3 million in 2009 (page 1, line 8).
·         The NURFC’s investment income dropped in from $1.2 million in 2008 to a loss of $4.3 million in 2009 (page 1, line 10).
·         The NURFC sustained a loss of $12.3 million in 2009 (page 1, line 19).
·         Of its contributions and grants, more than half ($1.182 million came from government grants).
·         The NURFC sustained a net loss on the sale of securities of $4.8 million last year (page 9, Part VIII, line 7(d)).
·         Its cash from the beginning of the year to the end of the year deterioriated from $2.8 million to $700,000 (Page 11, Part X, line 1).
·         The NURFC spent $348,953 on lobbying expenses in 2009 (page 3, Part II-B, line 1(f)).
·         NURFC Executive Director Donald Murphy is taking home a cool $259,419 in salary and benefits for running the place so nicely. 

To date, the total infusion of government cash into the NURFC exceeds $65,000,000.  If you amortize that investment out over 30 years, the useable life of the building, the subsidy per year is $2.167 million per year.  Divided by the estimated 43,800 annual paying attendees, equals a government subsidy of $49.47 for every single man, woman and child that enters the facility.

In late December, astonishingly, Cincinnati City Council voted to give the NURFC another $300,000 from the coffers of a flat-broke City.

And then Friday, the Enquirer reported that, once again, the cash-hemmoraging NURFC is pinning longevity homes on the National Park Service adopting the institution as a federal institution, thus forever freeing the losing proposition from market forces and any semblance of common sense in its operations.


  1. Wow, The Freedom Center's finances are even worse than anyone thought.

    2009 Revenue: -$1,181,205
    2009 Expenses: $11,134,291
    Total Deficit: $12,315,496

    It's hard to balance your budget when revenue is negative and expenses are greater than $11 million.

    Their balance sheet isn't much more promising:

    Total Assets minus Liabilities, Beginning of 2009: $63,738,951

    Total Assets minus Liabilities, End of 2009: $14,256,849

  2. I have said it before and I'll say it again. Make it a Don Pablos!

  3. Slavemaster wants to point out:

    The slave pen worked well. Every primary school child in Cincinnati now thinks that white persons in the early 19th Century lived in mansions and kept slaves in a slave pen like the one in there. Good job.

    I think they should put in a hanging tree with a bloody noose on it and get all of those little kids back in before they get old enough to read some actual American history.


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