I have to help pay for an Event Center now to? Next you’ll wanna take my guns.
On Inside KELOLAND yesterday they discussed the success of the Summit League tournament. They tried to use the show’s discussion to push the Event Center, again. During the segment they talked about all the economic benefits of the tournament. As I mentioned before, Sioux Falls IS a great town to visit. The Arena pulled off the entire tournament with only one major change; upgrading the locker rooms. So would a bigger facility make this event better? Maybe so, but is it worth building a larger facility that will only be filled to capacity a couple times a year? Maybe, if we approach the funding and subsidies carefully and mindful of the citizens. Ironically no representative of the citizens was invited to be on the show, for or against the EC.
When the Event Center discussion started a few years back (mostly pushed by sports nuts and the same crew that thought the Vikes training camp was coming to town) I opposed it. I didn’t care how it was being paid for. I recently climbed aboard and kind of support it and think that breaking ground in 3-5 years would be doable. But I only supported it because the task force basically said they would pay for the building of the facility through corporate sponsorships and a bed and booze tax. I also supported it because the facility has been scaled back to 10-12,000 seats. Well guess what? Those funding ideas have been thrown out with the bath water.
Jim Woster, an EC task force member said on yesterday’s show that they will be encouraging the legislature in 2010 to pass legislation that will allow municipalities in South Dakota to increase their retail taxes so other cities besides Sioux Falls could build similar facilities. What a gigantic can of worms. If the legislature approves the increase (which I don’t think they will) citizens would have the opportunity to vote on the tax increase. So now it seems they want to tax every purchase you make to pay for the EC. So people who won’t even be using it, or benefitting financially from it, still have to pay for it? Bologna! Woster says if this happens in Pierre they will be â€œEducating the communityâ€ on the benefits of the EC and the tax increase to pay for it.
I’m still trying to figure out what happened with the bed and booze tax or the corporate sponsorships? I have also suggested a corporate entertainment tax. This makes the most sense since the corporations are constantly begging for a new EC so they can â€œattractâ€ workers to the city. We have this mentality though in South Dakota that corporations and businesses should not be taxed because it will â€˜kill jobs’. How long or we going to drink this hogwash? Politicians reason that if we don’t tax corporations their profits will trickle down in higher wages and good jobs. Yet South Dakota still rates almost dead last in wages. In other words the tax break hasn’t produced results just more money for the already rich execs. I can hear the argument already â€˜We can’t expect small businesses to pay these taxes’ and most likely they wouldn’t if it was structured correctly. The tax would be based on profit margins. The bigger profit margin the more you pay. I think the corporate entertainment tax is a great idea and it would pass the ballot in flying colors. Â
Remember. Sioux Falls has a horrible track record when it comes to building entertainment facilities. Over the past ten years it is estimated that the CIP budget has dumped an additional $20 million into the Pavilion and counting costing taxpayer’s almost $40 million to date. This money comes from the general fund, not the entertainment tax that was setup for operating and subsidizing the Pavilion.
What am I saying? I support building a new Event Center, but we need to pay for it differently, not by taxing food more. I also think we should take our time in planning it so we don’t end up like the Pavilion.
If they think they can pay for this through a retail tax increase, it will never get built because the public will reject that funding option. Why do I think no one on the task force sees that? Because there really isn’t any working class people on the task force, just the same old elitists that sit on every board that are completely out of touch with the community, like half of our city council. Unless we start including some regular Joes on these committees the event center will never happen.