The economic development nonprofit Ann Arbor SPARK will be posting its financial statements on its website, according to a letter written by SPARK executive director Paul Krutko on Dec. 4, 2013. Krutko’s letter was sent to Washtenaw County board of commissioners chair Yousef Rabhi and Ann Arbor city administrator Steve Powers – both of whom are members of SPARK’s board. The letter came after an Ann Arbor SPARK board of director’s meeting on Nov. 25, 2013.
The meeting and the letter came after SPARK had declined several previous requests for its financial statements – from rank-and-file residents, journalists as well as elected officials. SPARK’s previous decision not to release past statements became moot when Ann Arbor resident Kai Petainen received the past records on request from the state of Michigan Attorney General’s office.
Ann Arbor SPARK contracts with the city’s local development finance authority – an entity that’s funded through tax increment financing (TIF) – to operate a business accelerator. SPARK also receives grants from several public bodies, including the city of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County. [.pdf of SPARK's 2006-10 audited statements]
Based on Krutko’s letter, it now appears that SPARK will itself be providing past as well as future financial statements on its own website.
Krutko’s letter was included in a message that Rabhi sent to an online group – called “aa better local politix” – with a positive update on what he described as his efforts to increase SPARK’s financial transparency. Rabhi described the Nov. 25 SPARK board meeting as tense, but was positive about the nature of the board’s conversation and the outcome. From Rabhi’s message:
By the end of the meeting, staff were empowered by the board to develop a comprehensive recommendation on how to move forward and to begin with initial implementation. In my perception, staff actually seemed energized by the way in which I framed up the issue and the ensuing discussion at the board table.
Krutko’s letter to Rabhi and Powers cites specific steps that SPARK will now be taking:
- We have posted our most recent financials on our website.
- We are developing a “Frequently Asked Questions About SPARK” summary to be posted on our website.
- We are preparing to post our 2013 Financial Statements upon completion by our Auditors in Spring 2014.
- We are requesting your help in being placed on an upcoming Board of Commissioners and City Council agenda at that time to answer any questions in these public forums about our financial statements.
- We will develop a Use of Funds Quarterly Report to elected officials, on activities supported by public funding provided to SPARK.
- As we have done in the past, we will continue to respond to specific questions from elected officials at any time.