It has been 17 years and 292 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.
On October 8, 2015 Glendale released its analysis of the expenses incurred in hosting the Super Bowl. Here is the link to the full report: SuperBowlXLIXPostEventAnalysisFinal2015_10_08 . I don’t know why this report is not on the city’s website. It should be available to every Glendale resident. The report is comprehensive and offers, “The purpose of this report is to provide a comprehensive overview of the city’s obligations and how they were met, a summary of the ancillary events and activities that took place, an analysis of specific city services provided, an assessment of stakeholder impacts, and a comprehensive financial analysis (page 2, executive summary).” I do take issue with some elements of Glendale’s final report, namely, cost avoidance and the lack of tracking employee time.
As I have suggested innumerable times, the only way hosting the Super Bowl works for Glendale is if a reimbursement mechanism is created by the State Legislature or the Host Committee. Whether the loss is a half million dollars or two million dollars, it is not a cost the taxpayers of Glendale should bear to enrich the state or other Valley communities. Glendale noted, “Other communities around the country that host Super Bowl have established a state-level funding mechanism to cover costs to local communities, or in some cases, Host Committees reimburse cities for associated costs. As an example, the city of Santa Clara, California (host of the upcoming 2016 Super Bowl) entered into an agreement with their stadium and Host Committee wherein the Host Committee is responsible for reimbursing the city’s direct costs (actual costs incurred) for all planning and execution activities associated with providing governmental services inclusive of public safety, traffic management, planning, building inspection, and public right-of-way clean-up (page 2, executive summary).” Until such time as a reimbursement mechanism is created Glendale should not participate in hosting another Super Bowl.
The report emphasizes the issue of cost avoidance. What is cost avoidance? According to the report, “At the onset of planning, staff was tasked with identifying service delivery alternatives or creative innovations that could be implemented to reduce costs or engage community partnerships in support of the city’s planning and execution efforts associated with Super Bowl XLIX. As a result of the combined efforts of the city’s planning team, Glendale realized cost avoidance of approximately $672,781…(Page 15).” Cost avoidance is only legitimate when it absorbs costs to provide necessary services to plan or execute the Super Bowl event. There were 2 items that could be classified as true cost avoidance: Light towers provided by the Department of Homeland Security at a cost of $12,000; and the city’s successful negotiation to eliminate a shuttle obligation at a cost of $200,000. These 2 items totaled $212,000.
An item that should not be considered cost avoidance ($415,625) is Valley fire and police agencies contributing staff time at their own expense. It is generally understood and accepted by all that any host city (anywhere) is not capable of providing the total police and fire services required. Other agencies understand that they will provide staff time at no cost to the host city. This action occurs at all Super Bowls, not just here. Calling this item cost avoidance is no more than ginning up the cost avoidance numbers. Other items listed as cost avoidance such as the Visiting Public Safety Officials Program ($16,656) were not required or necessary to plan or execute the Super Bowl. True cost avoidance totaled $212,000, not the $672,781 touted by Glendale.
Another problematic area of the report deals with Glendale’s reluctance to and lack of tracking of employee time spent in preparation and execution of the Super Bowl. Glendale says, “Preparations and planning for Super Bowl XLIX began in August 2013 with the assignment of two project managers and a team of approximately 20 employees representing multiple disciplines over 12 departments. All participating members of the planning team took on the responsibility in addition to their regular duties. Planning activities included participation in the following activities: internal core team meetings/communications, budget development, regional public safety planning, Host Committee briefings, stakeholder engagement, transportation planning, NFL production team, vendor engagement and media interviews (Page 12).” This team consisted of primarily salaried employees (paid an annual wage and benefits no matter the number of hours worked) and included:
• Economic Development Officer Jean Moreno
• Development Services Director Sam McAllen
• Police Commander Richard Bradshaw
• Interim Public Works Director Cathy Colbath
• Building Safety Manager Justine Cornelius
• Assistant Fire Chief Chris DeChant
• Transportation Systems Manager Trevor Ebersole,
• Airport Administrator Walter Fix
• Planning Director Jon Froke
• Fire Inspector II Anthony Gavalyas
• Senior Marketing & Communications Manager Joe Hengenmuehler
• Licensing & Taxpayer Analyst Tammy Hicks
• Fire Marshall Charles Jenkins
• Assistant Police Chief Matt Lively
• Assistant Planning Director Tabitha Perry
• CVB Manager Lorraine Pino
• Economic Development Administrator Kristen Stephenson
• Intergovernmental Programs Director Brent Stoddard
• Communications Director Julie Watters
I can see it now. When one of these people had to meet regarding the Super Bowl, they designated an associate to be in charge of their regular duties. Their responsibilities transferred to someone else who had to pick up the slack. These are valuable employees whose time was taken away from administering their departments and providing service to every Glendale resident. How much time was diverted from providing service to you, me, all of us? 1,000 hours, 2,000 hours? Glendale may consider it inconsequential to track their time but we, the taxpayers of Glendale, would like to know how many hours and the value of their time was diverted as a result of the Super Bowl. It is a true cost that must be accounted for.
Add the cost of non-salaried employees (paid wages and benefits for a 40 hour work week) who were tasked with carrying out the plans of this committee. It constitutes a direct transference of service time belonging to Glendale residents and diverted to support the Super Bowl.
Glendale’s rationale for its failure to track employee time and consequently the value of that time as a direct cost occurrence is, “In conclusion, the determination was made that the task of serving as the host city for the Super Bowl was a service being provided as a result of Council direction (Page 13).” On the face of it, that is one of the most illogical statements ever. Glendale goes on to say, “More importantly, requiring employees to track time would not be an effective or efficient use of scarce resources and there was no monetary gain that could be accomplished by doing so (Page 13).” Really? True, no monetary gain would be achieved but thousands of employee hours at real cost as well as service delivery avoidance to Glendale residents should be accounted for. It is a true cost to the taxpayers of Glendale that to date has remained hidden.
Glendale goes on to say, “Setting aside cost avoidance, after accounting for Glendale’s direct costs and direct fee-based revenue, the result was a negative net financial impact of $578,965. It is important to note that this does not account for any costs associated with pre-planning activities (Page 2, executive summary).” If the costs of employee time were recognized in this report it is expected that the true cost, rather than the $578,965 acknowledged would double to over a million dollars.
It is to be expected that Glendale would put as much positive spin on its hosting costs as possible and goes to great lengths to point out that Glendale does not have enough hotel rooms or venues to gain financially as well as offset it costs to host a Super Bowl. The overarching issue remains that Glendale experiences a financial loss in hosting the Super Bowl. Until that is remedied Glendale should not be in the Super Bowl hosting business.
© Joyce Clark, 2015
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