The view from near the back of the lawn at the Toyota Music Factory Pavilion.

Local News

A Look at the Irving Mayor and City Council’s Bar Tab

Turns out it’s not that easy to spend $12,500 a month, even at the Toyota Music Factory.

We’ve talked about the mayor of Irving’s wicked setup at Toyota Music Factory. For every show, Rick Stopfer gets four tickets. Three other tickets go to a Council person, rotating based on a lottery. The seven seats were included in the city’s contract with the venue’s operator as “additional rent” and are to be used in the performance of city business: promoting Irving, meeting with business prospects, schmoozing with fellow mayors, etc. But record-keeping on who comes along seems to be nonexistent.

Anyway, one thing about the contract that dropped a few jaws is its enormous allowance for food and drink, a monthly tab of up to $12,500. If you dig in, you can discern that the number was established, essentially, as a worst-case scenario spending cap. As City Manager Chris Hillman wrote in a 2017 letter I attached to that last story—here it is—the project was funded with tax-exempt bonds, coming with certain IRS stipulations limiting the benefit to the city. Hillman wrote that if the total value of the benefit—and that’s ticket value plus bar tab—reached the maximum, the food and drink spigot would have to be shut off. Well, according to some records the city released to us last week in response to an open records request, the city determined the maximum benefit to be about $200,000 in 2018, and it valued the tickets at $52,500 for the year. The difference between those two numbers is your bar tab—$150,000, or about $12,500 a month.

In practice, the monthly limit has been of no concern, as evidenced by that same release of new records. Last year, the only full year of the Music Factory’s young existence, the total value of the benefit came to $80,682, well short of the $200,000 benefit maximum. The city’s food and drink tab came in between $900 and $5,000 each month.

But, again, the $12,500 was established as a way to avoid issues with the IRS. Before slapping backs and tipping caps, let’s take a look at what the city brass charged to the house during just one month, August of last year. Over 10 events, the total tab reached $4,953.

• Dasani Water Bottle – 20oz (33 at $5 = $165)
• Smartwater – 1L (7 at $8 = $56)
• Cheeseburger & Fries (1 at $13 = $13)
• Chicken Tenders & Fries (14 at $12 = $168)
• Loaded Nachos (2 at $12 = $24)
• Naked Pretzel (10 at $16 = $160)
• Blackberry Basil Cocktail (1 at $20 = $20)
• Captain Morgan Dbl (1 at $19 = $19)
• Crown Dbl (2 at $22 = $44)
• Deep Eddy Ruby Red Dbl (1 at $19 = $19)
• Grey Goose Dbl (9 at $22 =$198)
• Hornitos Dbl (3 at $22 = $66)
• Hornitos Sgl (1 at $16 = $16)
• Jack Daniels Dbl (25 at $19 = $475)
• Jack Daniels Sgl (2 at $13 = $26)
• Maker’s 46 Dbl (11 at $22 = $242)
• Maker’s Dbl (5 at $22 = $110)
• Mango Habanero Cocktail (9 at $20 = $180)
• Margarita (1 at $16 = $16)
• Pinnacle Dbl (35 at $19 = $665)
• Ruby Red Cocktail (3 at $20 = $60)
• Sauza Blanco Dbl (3 at $19 = $57)
• Tito’s Dbl (5 at $19 = $95)
• Monster White 16oz can (1 at $8 = $8)
• Blue Moon Can – 24 oz (1 at $15 = $15)
• Blue Moon Can – 16 oz (1 at $12 = $12)
• Dos Equis – 24 oz (7 at $15 = $105)
• Karbach Hopidillo – 19.2 oz can (2 at $17 = $34)
• Karbach Love Street – 19.2 oz can (7 at $17 = $119)
• Michelob Ultra – 25 oz can (4 at $15 = $60)
• Miller Lite – 24 oz can (7 at $13.75 = $96.25)
• Souvenir Soda (6 at $8 = $48)
• Fuzzy’s Beef Taco Plate (2 at $11 = $22)
• Fuzzy’s Chicken Burrito (5 at $12 = $60)
• Fuzzy’s Chicken Taco Plate (10 at $11 = $110)
• Fuzzy’s Loaded Nacho (3 at $20 = $60)
• BV Coastal Chard Dbl Wine Glass (7 at $20 = $140)
• Matua Pinot Noir Bottle (1 at $38 = $38)
• Rombauer CH R Wine Bottle (3 at $85 = $255)
• VIP Double Wine Glass (3 at $20 = $60)

This actually doesn’t look too out of line. If you subtract all the non-alcoholic stuff ($886) and you realize that we’re talking about essentially 70 person visits (10 events times seven seats), that means each person, on average, consumed about $58 worth of booze at each show. We assume everyone took Uber home.

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