Apparently, the South Davis Cultural Arts Center (aka Rodgers Memorial Theatre) isn’t satiated with the millions in tax money it will receive. Ignoring a sagging economy, the Davis County Commission appears poised to cough up $2 Million for the project:
The Davis County Commission could decide next week whether to dedicate $2 million in tourism tax money to a proposed cultural arts facility in Centerville.
On Tuesday, commissioners reviewed an advisory board’s recommendation to fund the facility, though some raised worries of meeting all tourism tax obligations in a depressed economy.
Even more absurd is the $2 Million appears to be what proponents had pledged to raise themselves:
…Total costs for [the black box theater] version of the arts center have been estimated at $14 million, leaving $2 million left to be raised by private donations. [Emphasis added]
Proponents either couldn’t get the donations or just didn’t try very hard or at all, figuring that they could, again, turn to government (taxpayers) to pay up.
Equally ironic, is the fact that the money is coming from the tourism fund. The theater remains a local attraction and will, most likely, remain such. Especially given Salt Lake’s large Cultural district/performance center (scroll to the section) plans are moving ahead. Rather than using the tax money for things that actually could draw significant tourist funds and, thereby, potentially completely offset the tax expenditure, the Commission has seen fit to dump the money into a project that has an very low probability of being a return on investment.
As noted in the SL Trib article, Centerville Mayor Ron Russell has spearheaded the effort for the money. That should come as no suprise as it would be located in his city and he has a personal stake in the project.
Those interested may, politely, contact the County Commission.
UPDATE: Another tax-funded boondogle looks like a done deal. You still have time to contact the Commissioners, however. This is yet another example of why special interests prevail (Milton Friedman was right). Best of all, proponents are looking for donors with naming rights. Great; force everyone to pay for your hobby and then have the nerve to give special credit to those who’ve given the least.
One positive note: thanks go to the unnamed advisory board member who voted against the proposal.