No Audit, No Money: Naperville City Council refuses to fund Century Walk

"The Cat in the Hat" sculpture at the Nichols Library. Photo courtesy of Naperville Century Walk
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City council will not fund the Naperville Century Walk until it submits a financial audit to the city, and meets other requirements determined by the council. The dais added four new conditions to their agreement with Century Walk during Tuesday’s meeting.

Council’s original deal with Century Walk gives the non-profit $150,000 annually to curate and maintain public art in Naperville. $100,000 goes to developing art for city property, and the remaining $50,000 is used to maintain the art.

The deal was approved by city council in August 2021, but rules for Century Walk’s use of the funds were not codified.

Century Walk does not receive funding from the Special Events Cultural Amenities Program (SECA).

Adjusted agreement with Century Walk

City council came to a 6-3 decision to add these stipulations to their agreement with Century Walk.

  • Financial records be open to review by the city council;
  • The $100,000 be restricted to art on city-owned property, rather than on public property;
  • Funds be distributed by the city only once they’ve received a contract or invoice that establishes the amount that’s owed to an artist;
  • A council liaison be appointed to the Century Walk Board.

In 2022, Century Walk funded projects included the Gold Star Memorial at Veterans park for $60,799, and $36,700 for the relocation of the “Printed Word” mural. This year, Century Walk requests include a Martin Luther King Jr. sculpture at North Central College, and an extension of the “Naperville Loves a Parade” mural off Main Street.

City Manager Doug Krieger said he agreed to release the money to Century Walk in 2022 because the organization was working toward meeting the terms. But as of now, the organization has not agreed to an audit or appointed a council liaison to its board.

“They would not be eligible for any reimbursement unless they met the requirements, or they could come before council and seek relief from those requirements,” said Krieger.

Rebuttal from Bobosky

Brand Bobosky, president of the Century Walk Corp., argued to council that they should not be forced to pay for an audit.

“As far as paying bills, we’ll show you our financials, but we’re not going to have some outside party audit them,” said Bobosky.

Bobosky claimed an audit would cost his organization $5,000, but Naperville City Financial Rachel Mayer estimated an audit for Century Walk would cost between $1,000 and $2,000.

Councilwoman Nicki Anderson backed the motion from the dais, saying the council “can’t move forward” with Century Walk without these new rules.

“We’re all involved with nonprofits all over the City of Naperville and everyone gets an audit,” said Anderson. “No matter how small or large, they have an outside company come in and do the audit.”

Councilwoman Theresa Sullivan voted against the motion, as she believes Century Walk funding should be managed through SECA.

“I’m not going to support this because I don’t think that this should be a city obligation in the first place,” said Sullivan. “Given we’ve already given money out that did not meet these specifications last year, I don’t want to make the same mistake this year.”

*CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said the City of Naperville gives a portion of its budget to the DuPage Children’s Museum to use at its discretion. That is incorrect. The only funds the children’s museum receives from the city are through SECA’s grant process.*

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