With a down economy and small businesses feeling the pinch, rather than spend limited tourism money for projects that have a hope of bringing in tourist money, Commissioners have opted to fund a local special interest group with government officials seemingly benefiting the most. Additionally, that tourist money they will use will mostly be comprised of county residents’ money:
Now, with the dawning of spring just days away, the stars appeared to be properly aligned for County Commissioners to formally approve a resolution providing major funding support for what is being called the Davis Cultural Arts Center.
Commissioners approved a $2 million commitment to the $14 million project, spread over seven years. Tourism and culture-related taxes, mostly from restaurant tax revenues, will go toward the project. [emphasis added]
Most of the restaurant tax comes from local consumers. I would like the Commissioners to come out and show how many non-county tourists come in and use the restaurants, particularly in the South Davis area. I would also like to see the projections for how much real tourist money was projected to be brought in by the theater (including background on those projections), if a projection exists. To add insult to injury:
…an $800,000 lump sum to be passed to the Cultural Arts Administrative Control Board, comprised of officials from both Bountiful and Centerville cities.
It will be interesting to see if those board members end up being paid board members, as is frequently the case. Of course, that wouldn’t be the only conflict of interest in this case.
Finally, for those of you who have followed this issue, you should notice that the facility’s name is now the Davis Cultural Arts Center (they dropped the “South”) to make it easier to spin as a county project. Don’t get used to that name, either, however:
Hence the Davis name in the working title for the project, [Centerville Mayor] Russell said. That name could change if a sponsor is found willing to pay for naming rights, the mayor said.
In other words, between the RAP tax and restaurant taxes, taxpayers are footing the vast majority of the bill for the center and have no naming rights. However, someone who puts in a donation for a small proportion, is honored. I guess that is how you thank those you legally plundered money from.
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As an aside, I find it ironic that the tax restaurants collect also goes to pay for the government employed (not contracted out) catering service at the Conferrence Center – they’re forced to pay the government to do something they specialize in.