Call it a $250,000 typo.
The city's agreement with the Richmond Performing Arts Center LLLP, which is overseeing the planned $50 million renovation of the Landmark Theater, includes an annual operations subsidy of $500,000 from the city.
That subsidy would increase to $750,000 in 2015, according to the agreement City Council approved May 29. The city's annual $500,000 subsidy was supposed to end in 2019. Beginning July 1, 2019, the subsidy would then drop to $250,000 a year.
But in the ordinance City Council approved, the $250,000 subsidy began in 2015, which meant for four years — 2015 through 2019 — RPAC would receive both amounts, totaling $750,000 a year.
The city says the approval for that temporary raise was a mistake that slipped through unnoticed.
"A typo is a typo. We try not to have them, but once or twice a year it happens," City Attorney Allen Jackson says. "It just didn't get changed when the amendments got introduced on May 14."
It's unclear who noticed the error. Mayoral press secretary Tammy Hawley emailed Style seeking a correction to a Back Page essay that first ran online July 3. In the essay, "Foul Play," Style's former arts and culture editor, Don Harrison, rails against the deal, pointing out that the city was reaching further into taxpayers' pockets to give RPAC and the Richmond CenterStage Foundation an extra $250,000 a year, in addition to $14 million to rehab the Landmark.
Hawley's email to Style was sent July 11, the same day Chief Administrative Officer Byron Marshall and officials with RPAC executed their agreement in which the typo was fixed.
"There was no deal until the deal was legally executed," Hawley writes. "The executed documents are correct and reflect the agreement as perceived by the Mayor and City Council."
As for the typo, even though it was approved by City Council, fixing it didn't require making a substantive change to the agreement, lawyer Jackson says — remember, everyone understood that the subsidy would remain at $500,000 a year.
"If it's a change of substance as opposed to a typographical error, it would go back to Council," Jackson says. "Typos you can fix."