City Slush Fund$ (Bountiful)

Looks like Bountiful has plenty of slush funds:

Bountiful to help fund $1.5 million historical museum

The Bountiful City Council has agreed to help fund a new museum to be built by the Bountiful Historical Foundation.

Construction of the museum is expected to cost around $1.5 million, with half of the bill being paid for by the city.

“Bountiful was the second city in Utah,” said council member Tom Tolman. “We need a museum to help preserve our history.”

And the council agreed.

“I think that this is very exciting,” said Mayor Joe Johnson. “Bountiful needs a museum like this.”

Bountiful City took the lead when it and four others were able to tax citizens on an immense Recreation Center, and then dumped an additional $1 million of money itself and also fronted $2 million, each, for Davis County and the School District.  That’s a total of$5 million collected from Bountiful taxpayers the city apparently had laying around to place into the project.

Now, Bountiful commits a cool $750k for another project.

While, it could be argued that the government can, legitimately, be involved in historical preservation projects (assuming the history directly deals with that entity’s ‘jurisdiction’), the funding does raise some questions:

  • Exactly how much money does this city have in slush funds?
  • Why are its citizens being over taxed (or over-charged on fees/other programs) to maintain such large amounts?

Another issue also comes to mind. Councilman Tolman is well known to be involved in historical issues and is very involved with this foundation according to the article:

While the city has agreed to split the bill, the foundation has a set schedule to raise its share of the cost, and will not see a dime from the city until physical money is raised.

“These benchmarks will make it so the pressure is on us. It’ll give us initiative to move ahead,” Tolman said. “But we’re not worried, we’re motivated to get this money raised and this museum built.”

Upon further inspection of the Bountiful Historical Preservation Foundation:

The site is hosted by Bountiful City, including the city’s name and “.gov” designation (certainly on city servers).

Clicking the “Bountiful Historical Preservation Foundation – Bountiful Historical Commission” link (they appear to be one and the same) reveals its leadership. Now, scroll down a bit. Guess who is listed as:

  1. City Council Representative, Oversite, Coordination, Museum Search, History Update – Councilman Tom Tolman
  2. City Council Representative, Oversite, Publicity/ Newspaper – former Councilman John Pitt
  3. ex-officio member – Mayor Joe Johnson

First, I’m not sure how legal it is for a money-making/seeking operation can use and be so closely linked to government services and resources. Anyone know?

Second, did Councilman Tolman vote on the measure or withdraw with a declaration of conflict of interest?

I find it questionable that less well connected foundations would have the massive advantages this one has. It certainly seems open to impropriety.

UPDATE: I found out Boutiful City fronted the $4 million for the county and school district – I updated the information in the post.

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10 thoughts on “City Slush Fund$ (Bountiful)

  1. It’s very interesting. Normally, I would be excited to give some free advertising to the Museum so they can expand, but since the city has made its funding dollars contingent on the museum matching dollars, I don’t want to see the museum reach its goal.

    I don’t know what the law says about elected officials sitting on the board, but it is fishy nonetheless.

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