Sunday, April 22, 2018
News Roundup

Audit critical of MOSI accounting, financial management

TAMPA — The Museum of Science and Industry is in financial decline, according to a consultant's report, and needs to overhaul an accounting system that is based more on "wishful thinking" than reality.

Longtime CEO Wit Ostrenko has done a great job, though, says the report, which will be presented today to Hillsborough County commissioners.

That is the dichotomy apparent in the report, which Hillsborough officials ordered in February to analyze operations at the financially struggling museum, which operates rent-free on county property on E Fowler Avenue. County officials grew concerned when MOSI management asked the county for a $250,000 loan in 2013 when the museum still owed $250,000 from a 2012 loan.

Museum Management Consultants, which was paid $40,000 for the report, examined five years of financial documents, toured the museum and conducted 34 confidential interviews with MOSI staff, its board members and county staff. The consultants also compared MOSI's finances and operations to a group of similar museums.

The 41-page report opens with one paragraph lauding Ostrenko as a "big thinker who made things happen." Much of the rest details problems like negative cash flow, misleading financial statements and underwhelming fundraising efforts. The temporary closure of MOSI's cafe in March after state inspectors witnessed roach and rodent activity was not an anomaly, one person told consultants, but a sign of "general neglect systemic throughout MOSI."

Several board members complained about MOSI's accounting reports, which they said obscure financial performances of big, expensive exhibits like "Sea Monsters Revealed."

"Financials are presented in the best possible light instead of creating an accurate picture," consultants wrote.

MOSI, which operates on a roughly $10.5 million annual budget, lost about $360,000 in 2013, according to the report. While several people told consultants MOSI was "addicted to blockbusters" like the $1 million "Sea Monsters" exhibit, financial statements didn't show those exhibits lost money.

"Sea Monsters" earned the museum $96,000, but consultants did report that number with skepticism, noting MOSI didn't account for salaries of full-time employees who worked on the exhibits.

MOSI's employee expenses (Ostrenko makes $200,000, according to 2012 IRS filings) are in line with industry standards, the consultants found, but its fundraising is not. MOSI covers about 5 percent of its costs through donations, compared to a 29 percent average at similar museums.

The report makes 33 recommendations, including that MOSI reform its accounting practices and expand fundraising efforts. Ostrenko, who announced in April he will retire in December 2015, declined an interview request Tuesday. MOSI spokeswoman Shannon Herbon issued a statement.

"We are at a crossroads and are grateful to the county and Museum Management Consultants for highlighting best practices," Herbon wrote. "We are committed to working with Hillsborough County, the MOSI Board of Directors, and our community … to address each of the recommendations made in the report."

County Commission Chairman Mark Sharpe, a member of MOSI's board, said the report highlighted things that need to change.

"I'm very excited about the direction moving forward," Sharpe said. "Wit took the museum and brought it to a nationally recognized level. … There were some areas that lapsed. Now it's time to turn it over to a new team."

Contact Will Hobson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3400. Follow @TheWillHobson.

Comments
4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Four people were killed in a shooting at a Waffle House restaurant in Tennessee early Sunday, according to police, who credited a bystander with saving "many lives" by wrestling a weapon away from the gunman. The Metropolitan ...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

Class 9A-8 (higher seed hosts)Tuesday: No. 3 Alonso at No. 2 Palm Harbor University, 4; No. 4 Sarasota Riverview at No. 1 Newsome, 7Thursday: Final, 4 or 7 (depending on who hosts)Class 8A-4 at Strawberry Crest Tuesday: No. 1 Wharton vs. No. 4 Wiregr...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Teen killed in crash remembered as

Teen killed in crash remembered as "always smiling and laughing"

WEEKI WACHEE — Seth Leathers was on his way to play basketball at his church when he was killed Wednesday in a car crash on U.S. 19 in Spring Hill, according to family friend Laurie Pike.Leathers, 16, was the passenger in a car driven by his friend G...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Rays thoughts are with ex-teammate Danny Farquhar

Members of the Rays organization sent their thoughts and prayers to former teammate Danny Farquhar, who was hospitalized Saturday night in Chicago in stable but critical condition after suffering a brain hemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm.Farqu...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Baseball: Bulls edge Knights to even series

Baseball: Bulls edge Knights to even series

After a two-hour weather delay Saturday evening at USF, the remote local threat of lightning finally dissipated.The postseason intensity never did.For the second consecutive night, the UCF-USF baseball series delivered, this time with the Bulls (25-1...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe a path for wildlife across Interstate 4

Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe a path for wildlife across Interstate 4

The original Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition in 2012 was inspired by the how the Florida black bear roamed — and the space it needed to do so successfully. In 2010, expedition team member Joe Guthrie conducted research through the University of ...
Published: 04/22/18
Athletics’ Sean Manaea no-hits Red Sox

Athletics’ Sean Manaea no-hits Red Sox

OAKLAND, Calif. – Sean Manaea watched as Marcus Semien fired a ball from short to second baseman Jed Lowrie, turned around, and jumped into the arms of catcher Jonathan Lucroy. History was made at the Coliseum.Manaea no-hit the Red Sox on ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

Maple Leafs force Game 6 with Bruins

BOSTON — Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk scored 1:19 apart in the second period, and then the Maple Leafs killed off a 5-on-3 and three more power plays in a row to beat the Bruins 4-3 in Game 5 on Saturday night and avoid playoff eliminatio...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 10-1 Saturday win over Twins

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays’ 10-1 Saturday win over Twins

* Is it time to take the leap and believe this is the real Blake Snell? He talked a good game this spring and pitched well in his debut, but that rough second outing raised old doubts. But a good outing in Chicago and two dominant ones on the homesta...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Rays Tales: How low can this team go compared to those Devil Rays days?

Rays Tales: How low can this team go compared to those Devil Rays days?

When the Rays, in the opening weekend of their 20th anniversary celebration season, brought back and honored the inaugural 1998 Devil Rays squad, it got us thinking unexpected thoughts, such as which was a better team:The first one, or the current on...
Updated: 12 hours ago