In certain categories, the Burning Man Project’s expenditures in 2006 were a very near match with those of 2005. For example, money spent on materials and supplies was virtually the same as in the previous year, as were expenditures for rental equipment, repairs, portable toilets, and office rent in San Francisco. In other categories expenditures actually decreased, as in the case of telephone charges, printing costs, postage, and meals. Most of this is attributable to better management of our resources, but one apparent decrease in expenditure is an anomaly. The $420, 000 spent on art honorariums, as compared to $438,000 in 2005, is merely the result of transferring fuel expenses for incendiary art to the more general category fuel.
Other expenditures increased for a variety of reasons. Utilities costs nearly doubled, rising from $67,000 in 2005 to $111,000. This reflects higher trash disposal costs in Nevada and back-billing by our San Francisco landlord due to an accounting error. The cost of Burning Man’s platform rose from $136,000 to $181,000 in 2006 – the sum required to make a massive sculpture rise and fall within an elevator shaft. Travel costs increased from $134,000 to $181,000, largely the result of our continuing outreach to the growing Burning Man community.
Monies paid to local government agencies in Nevada went up, increasing from $114,000 to $171,000, and fees paid to the BLM also increased, along with our population. This totaled $843,000 in 2006, as compared with $710,000 in 2005. We also doubled charitable giving in Nevada, distributing $91,000 in Washoe and Pershing counties. The single largest increase in expenditures, however, was our payroll. This rose from $1,760,000 to $2,205,000. This growth reflects new hires in 2006, as well as a widespread increase in salaries. After many years of struggle, the Burning Man Project has gradually acquired a skilled and dedicated workforce (expenditures for training went from $8,000 in 2005 to $25,000 in 2006). Our aim is to retain and reward this experienced team, many of whom reside in San Francisco, a place where the cost of living easily exceeds most other places.
Cash in hand at the end of 2006 amounted to $855,000. A portion of this money supported our year-round operation until the beginning of ticket sales in 2007, but a significant amount remained. This, at last, is the famous `nest egg’ that we’ve yearned for over many years — and we will need it. Downtown San Francisco is about to leap across the boundary line of Market Street, nearly doubling in size. Throughout 2006, we listened to the steady pound of pile drivers in our neighborhood. Huge office buildings and enormous condos are arising like the edge of an advancing glacier. Already, they have blotted out the view. The real estate beneath our rented building has changed hands; our offices are slated for destruction. This might occur within two years. We are determined to remain in our hometown. In order to accomplish this, we’ll need both luck and money. We therefore plan to place our nest egg in a war chest – and survive.