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N4T Investigators: Past due

TUCSON – The group that runs the El Tour de Tucson bike race is way behind on a bill from Pima County. Perimeter Bicycling Association owes the county $205,000. That’s taxpayers money that could fix more than 2000 potholes, according to the transportation department.

The past due bill is for traffic control devices used during last November’s race. The county paid Trafficade Service for the equipment, and Perimeter was supposed to pay the county back. Ten days before the race, $125,000 was due; the rest was supposed to be paid no more than 30 days later.

Almost three months after the race, the county hasn’t received a cent from Perimeter Bicycling.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators have obtained a memo that County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry sent to colleagues last week. Huckelberry threatened a lawsuit if Perimeter doesn’t pay up soon, calling the non-payment “unacceptable.”

“It can only be let go for so long,” Huckelberry said. “And so we’re at the end of that grace period to where something’s going to have to happen.”

Perimeter Bicycling President Richard Debernadis acknowledged the debt in a phone conversation with the News 4 Tucson Investigators; he wouldn’t say why it hasnt’ been paid, and declined an interview.

Internal Revenue Service records show Perimeter lost $216,000 in 2016, the last year for which tax records are available. Mr. DeBernadis’ salary that year is listed as $108,100. The organization’s 990 form also states he worked an average of 80 hours per week.

There have been other issues related to last year’s El Tour de Tucson. One involved the town of Oro Valley. We asked the town manager’s office about it. Town spokesperson Misti Nowak provided this statement:

“To reduce costs, Perimeter Cycling decided to eliminate the 37-mile race, which began in Oro Valley, but they still wanted to keep part of the route in Oro Valley. Perimeter later requested that the Town pay for barricade and police personnel costs—estimated at $15,000. Before agreeing to cover costs, the Town requested recent economic impact data, which the El Tour Race Director could not provide, so the Town did not commit to covering those expenses and the race was re-routed. The Town understands and supports Perimeter’s decision to reduce costs so that this event—which is so important for the entire region—is sustainable into the future. Although the circumstances of this year’s race meant the route did not come through Oro Valley, the Oro Valley Police Department still worked the event, and the Town of Oro Valley provided a $5,000 sponsorship to support El Tour.”

Meanwhile, the 2019 race is scheduled to go on, but possibly without the county’s financial help. Huckelberry said, “Going forward, unless we’re fully compensated for this year’s expenses, we won’t be doing this same thing next year.”

There is a meeting Thursday about the past due bill. Perimeter’s president said it’s a private meeting, so our camera is not allowed in even though it involves taxpayers dollars. We will report any significant update when we get one.


Matthew Schwartz

Matthew Schwartz

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