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2014-02-06

Skate park ???, asked & some answered

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

In response to a reader request, the Bandera County Courier attempted to track down money donated during an October fundraiser for a proposed skate park to be constructed in Bandera City Park.
When a Jan. 20 email to Councilman Glenn Clark, who serves as prime mover behind the project, went unanswered, the Courier posed a series of questions to Mayor Don Clark in a letter delivered to city hall on Jan. 21.
After the Thursday, Jan. 30, edition of the Courier had been completed, the newspaper received a letter from Glenn Clark, dated Jan. 27, that had first been sent to Mayor Clark. In this roundabout fashion did the Courier receive answers to some of the questions posed to Mayor Clark and in an article published in last week's newspaper titled "Skate Park - where's the money & why?"
In his letter to the mayor, Glenn Clark wrote: "... the Skate Park Group volunteers made a report at the December city council meeting on the Skate Park Trust Fund being held by the city as well as a report on the funds being deposited with the Bandera Community Foundation."
Prior to the Dec. 12 city council meeting, there was a conference that included - according to Glenn Clark - himself, three members of the skate park volunteer committee, City Attorney Monte Akers and the mayor. "At that time the city attorney stated there was not an issue with us using the Bandera Community Foundation for our fundraiser due to needing a 501(c)(3) status. The required tax-free donation paperwork was requested from potential donors from the start."
This answers the Courier's questions about the significance of a nonprofit status to potential skate park donors.
Glenn Clark continued: "We are planning with the help of the Bandera Community Foundation to seek a 501(c)(3) status."
According to newly elected BCF President Buck Henry, the foundation "... doesn't charge anyone to set up a donor-directed fund. We allow any organization that our board finds worthy and can submit the necessary documents to obtain a 501(c)(3) tax shelter for 23 months while they establish their own nonprofit intently [sic]." Murray's explanation was in response to queries from the Courier.
Another question concerned the exact amount of money raised in October. As Glenn Clark wrote to the mayor, "The amount we raised after expenses directly associated with the fundraiser and which is now temporarily deposited (Courier emphasis) in a skate park account with the (Bandera Community) Foundation is $9348.89."
His estimate of the $6003.14 currently deposited in the Skate Park Trust Fund with the City of Bandera concurs with that of former Skate Park Committee Treasurer Mae Vion Meyer. According to information received after an Open Records Request, Meyer resigned her position with the committee after learning that the money from the fundraiser had been deposited with the BCF rather than in the Skate Fund Trust as had been approved earlier by Bandera City Council.
"The grand total of both accounts now stands at $15,352.03. This was done without one penny of taxpayers money or any help from the city other than those officials who volunteered," Glenn Clark noted, answering the Courier's question: What is the total amount of money in both accounts?
In its letter to Mayor Clark, the Courier noted that James McGroarty, owner of the 11th Street Cowboy Bar where the skate park fundraiser was held, was apparently unaware of the second bank account - nor had he been informed of the amount of money raised at his entertainment venue.
Addressing McGroarty's concerns, Glenn Clark wrote: "As far as information Mr. McGroarty does not have about the fundraiser I would gladly share information on whatever he would like to know ... I think he is aware he can call me anytime even though i was not the one who set up the agreement with him on the use of his facility."
The Courier also wanted to know if city council authorized the second account at the BCF. When queried, Mayor Pro Tem John Hegemier was hazy on whether the proposal had been brought before city council - understandable, since it had not been. However, Glenn Clark intends to rectify that omission as soon as possible, writing: "We will need to approach the city council with what we feel are guidelines needed by our group to operate. With their input and approval we hope to get this project off the ground soon. Keep in mind we were not given any specific limitations on how to raise funds. All of the issues we encountered can be worked out when we address the council in the near future."
He also reaffirms the Skate Park Committee's ultimate allegiance to the city's bank account by noting: "The volunteer group has from day one wanted to operate under the city umbrella."
As for the rest of the questions, the Courier surmises that Glenn Clark opened the BCF account with the blessing of Mayor Clark and attorney Akers. Apparently, Glenn Clark is also charged with deciding where the skate park donations are deposited - and when money with both accounts will be co-mingled.
The only questions remaining at this time include:
• Would the funds deposited in the BCF account be subject to scrutiny by the city's auditing firm?
• Who else is on the Skate Park Committee?
• What is the official relationship of the city to the skate park?