A Little Transparency, Please

The Lone Tree Arts Commission was established by the City of Lone Tree in 1999 to promote public awareness of fine and performing arts within the City. Funding for the LTAC comes in part from the City of Lone Tree, and also from the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District which provides approximately $75,000 annually. The Lone Tree Symphony, for example, receives more than $40,0000 annually in grant awards from LTAC. With additional funding from Douglas County SCFD, 80% of Lone Tree Symphony’s annual budget now comes from “government grants.” Government support for symphony orchestras as a national average is is just 4%.

Taxpayers in the SCFD District have a right to know how these funds are spent when unusual amounts and percentages are passing hands. Lone Tree residents especially have a right to know how these funds are spent. They voted for a tax increase in 2004 so they could join in the SCFD Tax District, and they voted for another tax increase in 2008 to fund the new $20 million Lone Tree Arts Center slated to open this Fall.

So, the $20 million question: Are Lone Tree residents better off after these two tax hikes, and do they know where this money is going? The Colorado Symphony performed annual concerts in Lone Tree’s Sweetwater Park before these tax increases. Now, with added funds in City coffers, the ‘pay-to-play’ Lone Tree Symphony has now assumed the gig. Count one strike against the notion that residents are better off.

Answers and accountability to these questions are typically noted in Meeting Minutes of the Lone Tree Arts Council, but these documents are not as accessible as they should be. In fact, they’re not as accessible as they were in the past. Click here to see Meeting Agendas and Minutes of other areas of Lone Tree city government such as City Council, Planning Commission, Youth Commission, etc. All are perfectly up to date, except for the Arts Commission. Suspiciously, all records stop after January 13, 2010.

My personal conspiracy theory suggests that LTAC is responding to my February 5, 2010 commentary Lone Tree Symphony’s Taking Much, Giving Little. That story raised a bit of a fuss between myself and Lone Tree City Officials, to put it mildly.

With the hope of putting my theory to rest, I sent an email inquiry last week to the Lone Tree Arts Commission, asking for an explanation for this 15-month lapse? Following proper protocol I used the contact link at the bottom of their LTAC webpage, but my email bounced back with a notice:“This account has been disabled or discontinued.”

Maybe they’re just uncomfortable.

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