David Dodd 2:33 a.m., May 19
Streetlight banners are up, the schedule is being dribbled out a day at a time to increase suspense, bouncers and bartenders are poised and at the ready, Gaslamp is bracing for an endless traffic jam.
In short, it's time for rabid accounting fans to put on their green eyeshades and review the latest available 990 IRS filing for Comic Con--courtesy of the website Guidestar.Org--to see how much cash the global fiction-frenzied hordes have bestowed on what is arguably San Diego's most famous non-profit--though the group is actually headquartered in La Mesa.
It may be hard to remember, but there was a time when the Union-Tribune questioned the non-profit status of the event, now frequently cited by Mayor Jerry Sanders, city councilman Kevin Faulconer and their posse of boosters as one of the main reasons a lavish new tax-financed addition to the convention center is required here.
Back in July 2007, the paper reported: "As such, the pop-culture extravaganza, which generates about $5 million in revenue each year, is exempt from income taxes and pays less in city traffic-control fees."
Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy was quoted as saying, "The people who appear to be profiting are the pop-culture purveyors who have a great marketing opportunity there."
Here's that story:
Back then, the U-T piece reported that in 2004-05, Comic-Con, according to its 990 IRS financial disclosure form, had total revenue of $5.2 million, expenses of $4.2 million and net assets of $3.8 million.
Things have gone radically uphill from there, according to the group's most recently available 990, covering the period between September 1 2008 and August 31 2009, and stamped received by the IRS last July 19.
By then, gross receipts for the non-profit, which conducts other, smaller events besides the world-famous summer extravaganza here, were $9,169,302 and expenses were $8,213,846, bringing net revenue to $955,456. Net assets were listed at $7,783,375 at the end of the period.
The highest paid officer was listed as executive director Dona Fae Desmond, who worked a reported 50 hours a week for $84,742 in annual salary, plus $9,048 in "estimated other compensation."
Second highest was John Rogers, president, at $18,000.
Among liabilities was a bank overdraft of $478,028.
Employees who had ties with corporate officers were listed as Maija Gates, daughter of executive director ($63,412); Colleen O'Connell, wife of treasurer ($61,770); and Eddie Ibrahim, former board member ($61,303).
Download a copy of the 990 filing at the bottom of the page here: