By: Diane Benjamin
It looks like Sister Cities is planning another trip. Their website doesn’t have any minutes posted since June 2017 however. http://www.bnsistercities.org/about/#committee
They have a general agenda posted which shows meetings in 2017 were scheduled for:
August 7 (Moved to Aug. 14 due to 55th Anniversary Trip)
No schedule of meetings is posted for 2018. Once again laws evidently don’t matter. They do continue to get money from Bloomington. $1,008.42 is transferred to them every month from the General Fund. That amount is meant to match what Normal donates per year – $12,100.00.
I FOIA’d the General Ledger listing for all accounts with Sister Cities in the name. The list I received covers the current fiscal year – May 1, 2017 through March 31, 2018 and part of April. Sister Cities General Leadger activity as of April 12, 2018
As of March 31st, the totals show the Sister Cities program has spent $69,089.91 more than it received. Add back Normal’s contribution of $12,100.00 and Bloomington’s year-to-date contribution of $11,092.62, and this program has cost $92,282.53 through March 31st.
I have to go back to the previous year however to try to get close to the actual cost. The Sister Cities program began collecting money for last year’s Japan trip in March of 2017. See this story the recaps last fiscal year: https://blnnews.com/2017/09/08/sister-cities-non-budget/
Donations (other than government) were received in March and April 2017 of $119,087.84. The same two months showed expenses of $58,735.87. That’s a net of $60,351.97.
Since revenue and expenses cross two years, this is the closest I can come to what the Sister Cities program costs: $92,282.53 – $60,351.97 = $31,930.56 through March 31, 2018.
Part of the expenses is $140.00 a month paid to the exchange student from Japan.
Expenses and donations for this year’s trip will still be coming in. The questions remain the same as last year: Since paying for their own trip is called “donations”, are the travelers taking a tax deduction for the expense? The IRS would not approve.
Since the Sister Cities organization can’t post actual agendas and minutes of meetings, this is something can be easily cut. The program affects very few people and should be handled privately.