Show Me The Money!Aug. 21, 2008
Proponents of tax hikes often challenge The Family Foundation in our position that a tax increase is not necessary for major improvements for transportation. However, until some confidence is built that the money taxpayers have already entrusted to politicians is being used well, there is no reason to give them more. Case in point:
The Daily Press has an article (rerun in The Richmond Times Dispatch) about the financial outcome of the Jamestown Anniversary Celebration. It mentions that visitor spending associated with the 400th Anniversary of Jamestown's settlement was approximately $1.2 billion. Then the article goes on to say that the celebration yielded "$173.8 million in direct visitor spending at commemoration events." So, in reality, a bit more than 10 percent of the total $1.2 billion was actual visitor spending.
Where's the rest, you ask? Well, $556 million in "facilities improvements" and other "indirect or 'ripple effect' spending." So the biggest hunk of cash was state and local governments using our tax dollars to improve the facilities for the event and the other $461 million is not tangible enough to even describe.
My guess is that the indirect costs in part went to pay the 20,000(!) people hired for the celebration. Talk about overhead. Someone needs to find out how many employees per visitor that amounts to.
One last thing. The article describes the anniversary celebration as lasting 18 months, which is a bit unusual for an "anniversary" but it's not crystal clear how long the financial figures account for. If it's only 10 percent of visitor spending over 18 months that's even worse than I thought at first glance.
There is a philosophy that sometimes you must spend money to make money. While true in some cases, as usual the General Assembly seems to have spent money to lose money. Our money.
By the way, whoever got the job of press relations for this celebration has earned their probably ridiculous salary, because the spin in this article and others claiming a successful event is almost inconceivable.