Mission Viejo

It’s Not the Event; It’s the Lack of Accountability

By Ed Sachs

In a long line of Mission Viejo’s missteps of overspending public funds comes year two of the International Tennis Federation (“ITF”) Wheelchair event. I reported on last year’s event in the February issue of CCS.

Council members approved year two of this event during the Feb. 3, 2014, council meeting. We can only hope that the accounting and budgeting are tighter than the first event. Residents should not have to continually fund event and capital improvement cost overruns.

A budget of $55,000 was requested of council to host the 2013 ITF Wheelchair Tennis event after approval of the event. City staff made the critical mistake of providing council members with only the first 11 pages of a 28-page contract. The missing pages included the city’s expenditure responsibilities. Yet, council approved the event nonetheless.

To help illustrate the cost to taxpayers of this event, I have an exercise for you that I will call the “reader participation” section of this article. Get a piece of paper. On the left side of the paper list the following expenses:

- Hotel (252 room nights)
- Transportation for players and their guests 3 days prior to and 2 days after the event, to and from airport
- Event venue
- 3 daily meals for players, coaches, ITF staff, referees, sponsors and guests

Provision of:

- Repair station and stringing services
- Information board and results board
- Free physiotherapist
- First Aid station
- Tournament Guide
- Doctor and dentist on call
- Sound system to announce matches
- Clothing for ball children and officials
- Free drinks for players, coaches, volunteers, organizers, ITF staff and sponsors and guests
throughout the event.

You may need another piece of paper; we can wait while you grab that.

Now list:

- 25% of the prize money, as decided by the ITF
- Tournament referee and other paid officials.
- Flower arrangements
- Creating and installing banners as specified
- PR costs including programs, flyers posters and merchandise.
- ITF “farewell dinner” for players, coaches, players’ guests, organizers, ITF staff, sponsors and “official guests”.
- Checks and trophies for winners and runner-ups
- All costs related to ball persons, administration and staffing costs including security, stringing staff, repair station staff, Master of Ceremonies, media staff and photographer
- Full insurance coverage for event
- Lots and lots of tennis balls

On the right half of your paper, assign a dollar amount you believe will cover the costs for your budget. Did you come up with $55,000? Perhaps you came up with $96,369? That interestingly was the actual cost to the city taxpayers after ticket sales, sponsorship donations and cash. The USTA picked up the city’s 25% of prize money. A true budget would come closer to the actual cost, which was around $210,000.

City staff should have presented that budget to council members to help them make their decision. There is no excuse for council members who failed to request a cost accounting before voting.

Taxpayers must demand that city council require a full accounting with accurate information from city staff before making decisions to spend the taxpayer’s money. City staff must offer real-world responsible budgeting. Otherwise, our city is destined to continue its history of poor project management.

Ed Sachs and his family have lived in Mission Viejo since 1991.  Ed spent 30 years in the consumer electronics industry where he was inducted in the Hall of Fame. He retired as President Emeritus at Pioneer Electronics in 2009.  Since retirement, Ed has opened his own leadership-consulting agency while becoming active in the community.  In 2012, Ed ran for Mission Viejo City Council.  Ed and his wife Leagh, an accomplished and award winning photographer, have two sons, David and Daniel.

Questions? Comments? The CCS wants to hear from you! Contact Mission Viejo Contributing Editor Steve Magdziak at: (949) 441-0499.

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