Friends of the Zeiss                                     Statement Before Board of Directors,

P.O. Box 1041                                                                    Allegheny Regional Asset District:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15230-1041 U.S.A.                                       2003 August 27

Telephone: 412-561-7876

Electronic Mail: < friendsofthezeiss@planetarium.cc >

Internet Web Site: < http://www.friendsofthezeiss.org >

 

Good evening, I am Glenn A. Walsh of 633 Royce Avenue, Mount Lebanon. I am Project Director of Friends of the Zeiss.

 

According to the annual grant application submitted to the Allegheny Regional Asset District, last month by the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, the Children’s Museum has run HALF-MILLION DOLLAR DEFICITS IN THE LAST TWO FISCAL YEARS, in budgets of approximately two million dollars each!  They also ran a $206,000 deficit in 2001 and a $77,000 deficit in 2000! They justify this by saying that these are “transitional years,” due to construction of the expansion project—even though the groundbreaking was just last Friday! They also say that they have arranged for money from the capital account to cover the deficits.

 

As the Children’s Museum did in grant applications in the two previous years, this year they also forecast no deficit for the upcoming fiscal year. Anyone looking at the last three grant applications they have submitted can clearly see that the Children’s Museum lacks any credibility, whatsoever, in fiscal accountability!

 

As a former Life Trustee with the Andrew Carnegie Free Library, who served as Library Treasurer from 1995 to 1996, I find their financial behavior appalling and completely irresponsible. If the Children’s Museum runs these kinds of deficits while still operating in the small Old Allegheny Post Office building, what will their deficits look like when they have a building four times the size to operate?  When the capital account is all used-up, will they then expect the RAD Board to greatly increase their subsidy, to cover these larger deficits?

 

Their business plan, for the expanded building, includes rental income from non-profit organizations. I have direct experience in such rentals, regarding the Music Hall and Lecture Hall of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library. I know that such rental income falls short of actual needs, as non-profit organizations can only pay so much in rent. If the rent is increased too much, the non-profit organizations will not be able to pay and will have to leave the Children’s Museum, leaving the Museum with even less revenue.

 

If the Children’s Museum expansion project must go forward, then additional revenue sources must be found for operating the expanded building. The use of the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector and 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope, for historical presentations, could be one way to attract more visitors into the building.

 

In May, we learned that The Carnegie Science Center has abandoned their expansion project. And, considering that the Science Center has laid-off 10 full-time employees and 2 part-time employees this year, there is little chance that a new expansion project will be considered in the foreseeable future. Without a Science Center expansion, there is no space in the Science Center building for the Zeiss Projector and Siderostat Telescope. Hence, the only hope to return these historic Pittsburgh artifacts to public service is to return them to the Buhl Planetarium building.

 

The Board of Directors of the Allegheny Regional Asset District should very closely scrutinize this year’s grant application by the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. And, to maximize the revenue potential of the Buhl Planetarium building, we ask that this Board insist that the Zeiss Projector and Siderostat Telescope be returned to the Buhl Planetarium building for public presentations in the expanded Children’s Museum.

 

Thank you.

 

gaw

Also see -- Children's Museum Deficits for Fiscal Years 2000-2003

News Release: < http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/friendsofthezeiss/NR-ARAD-Buhl-8-27-2003.htm >