Getty parking correction: some of our numbers were wrong

My item last week on the Getty's parking revenue included two incorrect numbers billed as coming from the museum's IRS filings, and they alter one of the key points of the post.

getty-entrance-view.jpgFirst the good news. The post began by citing the Getty's total amount of parking revenue last year, pulled from a copy of the Getty Trust's IRS Form 990 that is in circulation: $6,451,647. The post also cited the parking income in tax year 2009, the year before the parking fee was raised to $15 per vehicle. That was $4,707,447. I did the math and found the increase in revenue over the two years was $1,774,200 a year. That part of the story was all fine.

Unfortunately, I went on to cite figures provided by an observer of the Getty's financial practices that made it look as if all but $16,502 of the increased parking income was absorbed by salaries and benefits of top Getty officials. And that's not the case, according to the Getty's 990 forms. The Getty pointed it out, I re-checked the 990s and agree with the Getty, and the original source also now agrees that the previous numbers provided were wrong.

Here are the correct numbers, taken from Line 13 of the Getty's tax filings for the two years.

2011: $4,062,574 link
2009: $3,501,872 link

We had the correct 2011 sum, but were way low on the 2009 total. The correct numbers show an increase of spending on officers' compensation of $560,702, about a third of what I'd said in the previous post. That means there's about $1.2 million in new parking revenue that was not sucked up by officers' salaries. So what was that new infusion of cash used for? "Parking revenues are directed toward repayment of the Getty's bond obligations, which are mostly tax-free and can only be repaid with non-endowment income, like parking, food service, and museum store revenue," writes Julie Jaskol, assistant director of media relations for the Getty.

(By the way, I encourage clicking on the links to see in terse black and white the very large sums the Getty deals with. More 990 forms here.)

As for the incorrect numbers, I clearly should have double-checked the original source's citations and math. For what it's worth, I have no reason to believe the source intended to mislead, though where the inaccurate numbers came from remains unclear to me. Erroneous transposing between IRS forms and a spreadsheet may have contributed. "Kevin, I am at a total loss," the source writes. "I can’t find that number either except on the attached spreadsheet. I am really mortified." Yeah, me too.

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