The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance

The Watch



The Aquarium was a project championed by the Mayor. He assured citizens it would be profitable, It wasn’t, isn’t and has little prospect of being so. The total cost of the project was over $70 million and was financed in a complex manner which makes the true cost hard to determine. Losses have been incurred in operations since the doors opened and despite economy measures, the Aquarium needs about $1 million a year in gifts to meet running and financial costs. .

September 25, 2009

The SC Aquarium
Technically bust?
Spaulding-Paolozzi Foundation comes to the rescue
Warwick Jones

The Aquarium’s financials disclosed in filing with the IRS for Calendar 2008 is not a pretty picture. The Form 990 filing shows there no longer is a surplus of assets over liabilities and that the entity has loans of $5.06 million repayable at the end of January 2010. As in previous years, the Aquarium had an operating deficit, and in 2008 it amounted to $2.04 million. It again largely relied on gifts and grants to balance its books and ended the year with a deficit of $320,000. And the way this year has shaped up, 2009 most probably will be even more difficult.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:10 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2009

The Aquarium - Time running out on debt deal?
Confronted by poor economy

Warwick Jones

We had not forgotten about the Aquarium. We usually start bothering it for the annual accounts at the time they are due in May. Invariably we are told it has filed with the IRS for an extension or asks $30 payment for copying. When we receive a copy, it is invariably a few days or so after the Post and Courier has published a story with a predictable positive spin. So last year, we decided to leave the Aquarium alone and wait.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:20 PM | Comments (0)

June 20, 2006

The Aquarium
Operating results deteriorate further
Higher gifts and grants boost cash flow
Warwick Jones

The Post & Courier was able to get a copy of the Aquarium's 2005 accounts some weeks ago. City Council members got theirs only before today's Council meeting. We were able to get our copy only yesterday, and it was the IRS 990 filing which by law is available to the public. Makes you wonder doesn't it? And it happens every year.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 06:29 PM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2005

Aquarium gets a break
But it needs $3.3 million by 2010. Hullo sales tax
Warwick Jones, Editor

Give the Aquarium its due. It has been tardy in the past in releasing its accounts. As a non profit, it is obliged to make its accounts for the previous year available to the public before May 15 of the following year. Last year, it was not until late August that we were able to secure a copy. But this year, City Council members and the press had copies by May 16. As usual, the release was accompanied by an optimistic spin. Mr. Jack Higgins the CFO was quoted in the P&C as saying "things are looking good". And with a potential $3.3 million loan forgiveness and a break on interest payments, things certainly seem much brighter. But it ain't all sunshine!

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 04:15 PM | Comments (0)

April 29, 2005

Bank of America writes off Aquarium loan?

Warwick Jones, Editor

We are not normally in the habit of passing on rumors. But this one is so prevalent and credible, that we will break our custom. As the story goes the Bank of America has written off its share of the bank group loan to the Aquarium. At the end of 2003, the loan amounted to $8.7 million and we suspect that it was not much less than this at the end of 2004. Bank of America was the lead banker in providing the loan.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2005

City Council Meeting - February 22
First step taken towards an African American Museum
But financing hurdle is high
Marc Knapp who covers City Council

As usually happens, the Mayor got his way. At issue was $250,000 of funding to make a preliminary study for a new African American Museum. But in fact, the issue was the museum itself. To approve the funding, the final objective had to be endorsed. After a spirited debate, the funding was approved, but not unanimously. Council members Shirley, Fishburne and George voted against the proposal. All black members of council voted for the funding.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 05:10 PM | Comments (1)

September 27, 2004

The Aquarium - a potential problem for the City?

Warwick Jones, Editor

Last year the South Carolina Aquarium (SCA) incurred a loss of $2.4 million. This year, most likely another loss will be incurred though hopefully much less than in 2003. But cash flow could fall further and create a need to draw further on borrowings. The question is how much further can it draw and what could be the ramifications for the City of Charleston?

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 05:58 PM

September 15, 2004

The Aquarium - Large debt weighs on future financial performance

Warwick Jones

We were not surprised that the Aquarium released its results before our meeting with The Aquarium's CFO. It was unlikely that we would be given an "exclusive". The Post & Courier ran the story on Saturday morning last though did not focus on some of the things we think are important.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:34 PM

August 21, 2004

Post & Courier acknowledges an issue with the Aquarium - at last

Warwick Jones, Editor

The Post & Courier's story today about the tardiness of the Aquarium in providing its annual report for 2003 should have been headline news over a week ago. Councilmember Robert George wrote a letter to the Mayor and other councilmembers on August 12, 2004 complaining about the issue and pointing out that the Aquarium had breached the terms of its sub-lease arrangement. The Post & Courier was informed at that time and has waited a week to air the issue.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2004

The Aquarium - What is the Mayor hiding?

Warwick Jones, Editor

What is the mayor hiding? The audited accounts of the Aquarium for its last fiscal year should have been available some months ago. Councilman Mr Robert George has asked Mayor Riley for a copy several times in recent weeks but his request has been denied. He followed up this request with a formal letter to the Mayor and Council which was given to us yesterday.

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Posted by Warwick Jones at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2004

Will Ansonborough Fields save the Aquarium?

The Editors
The mayor is going to a lot of trouble to develop Ansonborough Fields. Could it be an effort to save the Aquarium, or at least an effort to lessen the financial hemmhorage? The mayor is intent on some form of development on the site that leads to the Aquarium. The development will include space for retail stores as well as affordble housing. Will this be enough to make a difference? We doubt it.

Posted by Warwick Jones at 08:56 PM | Comments (0)