Thursday, December 4, 2008

Freedom Center Attendance Falls Further

Pepper’s bottomless pit continues to waste tax dollars

Paid attendance at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC) fell in 2007 to approximately 61,260 persons compared to 69,000 in 2006, according to its IRS 990 income tax returns. The decline is yet more evidence that the monies invested in the NURFC by City, State and Federal governments is utterly cash dumped down a bottomless pit. Former Proctor and Gamble Chairman John Pepper has spread tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to politicians to leverage the tax subsidies to his pet project.

When, oh when, will our politicians learn,” asked COAST Chairman Jason Gloyd, “that the Freedom Center is a complete waste of tax dollars? It is comical that City, County, State and Federal governments complain about the shortage of tax dollars, and then profligately waste enormous amounts of money on the Freedom Center.

The NURFC filed its required tax return for non-profit corporations for calendar year 2007 at the end of October 2008. The return shows that in 2006, ticket sales generated $827,084. In 2007, that number dropped 11% to $735,125. The $12 ticket price yields the paid attendance numbers noted above. The NURFC, which offers a variety of free admission opportunities to pump up its attendance numbers, had projected 1,000,000 visitors from throughout the world per year when it solicited $55 million in taxpayer subsidy to construct the facility.

The NURFC announced in 2004 that it would seek $3 million in tax subsidies for its operations per annum to sustain itself, after it failed to meet its income and attendance projections. Since that time, the City of Cincinnati, Hamilton County and the State of Ohio have pumped more than $7 million into its operations.

Since that time, John Pepper and other NURFC board members have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to state legislators, Cincinnati City council members and Hamilton County Commissioners to assure the continued flow of tax dollars into NURFCs coffers.

In 2007 the NURFC reported that it had operating expenses of $7.4 million. That means the actual cost of operating the facility for every person who came through the turnstiles is a shocking $121! See the tax return here and run the numbers for yourself; it's astonishing!

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