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Fredericksburg City Council seeks details about U.S. National Slavery Museum before granting more financial incentives
The museum is required to provide an annual report to the city within 90 days of the end of each fiscal year. Councilman Kelly said that the report is supposed to spell out how the $1 million loaned to the museum was being spent, and include the tax return for that year.
The report submitted at the end of March did not provide either. The tax return submitted was for the last six months of 2003, and no breakdown of expenditures was provided. The 2003 return covered only six months because the museum was transitioning to calendar-year accounting.
Rodenberg said in April that Foster told him she would provide an updated tax return when it was filed; the deadline for filing was May 16. The 2004 tax return received on July 1 was signed by the museum's accountant on April 30.
Fortune said he looked at the 2004 tax return after getting it from Rodenberg and said he continued to have questions.
"I've never gotten a feel for how viable the project is," he said. "I know they have to raise a lot of money. I've never seen any documentation of that."
The first section of the tax return is for organizations to record contributions from both private and government sources.
The museum's 2004 tax return shows it collected $97,674 in "direct public support," accrued interest of $18,591 on "savings and temporary cash investments," and received no government grants.
Kelly said the accounting of the $1 million loan is important since the funds cannot be spent on building the museum itself, only for infrastructure within the Celebrate Virginia South project.
"They need to fulfill the obligations they agreed to," Kelly said. "When you look at it, it's not a lot to ask for."
Several of the councilmen interviewed said they hadn't pressed for more information or focused attention on the museum yet because they hadn't been called on to make decisions about it.
"We're pretty much backed off and waiting," Councilman Turner said.
Turner said he considered the information a detailed accounting and said he was "comfortable" with what he's received to date. He said he has pursued details himself, contacting Foster, Damron and former Mayor Lawrence Davies, who serves on the museum's advisory board. And, when he's at a function where Wilder appears, he said he asks him questions, as well.