TUCSON – The long-time head of the group that runs the El Tour de Tucson bike race is stepping down. Richard DeBernardis announced the move on the Perimeter Bicycling Association web site last week and discussed it today with the News 4 Tucson Investigators.
The 74-year-old DeBernardis said in a phone call that it is time for someone else to run the financially-strapped organization. As the News 4 Tucson Investigators first reported last month, the group owes Pima County $180,000. That’s taxpayers money.
Perimeter was supposed to pay the county $208,000 months ago. That is how much the county paid an outside vendor for traffic control devices used during last November’s race. Perimeter was supposed to pay back some of that money before the race, and the rest within 30 days afterward. It paid nothing until last month when it gave the county a check for $28,000.
DeBernardis told us at the time that “We had lower registration than we anticipated, that we projected for the event, so we lost in registration. We didn’t have a title sponsor last year. And that is a big figure, like $150,000.”
The News 4 Tucson Investigators also reported last month that Internal Revenue Service records show Perimeter lost $216,000 in 2016, the last year for which records are available. Perimeter has entered into an agreement with the county in which it said it will pay back the $180,000 it still owes over three months, ending in May. The county attorney has said she will sue Perimeter if the money is not paid by then.
County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said the county gives El Tour $30,000 annually in grant funding. Huckelberry said, “Going forward unless we’re fully compensated for this year’s expenses we won’t be doing this same thing next year.”
DeBernardis told us this year’s race is still on. He has claimed it brings between $10-$12 million to the local economy, but several sources say that number is highly inflated.
Perimeter’s board has voted to keep DeBernardis on the payroll in an advisory role for the rest of this year, at his full salary of $108,000.
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