Monday, January 5, 2015

Pinellas, Hillsborough Talk Multi-County Tax...for a Movie

One of my "3 things the Stadium Saga needs in 2015" was more collaboration between Pinellas & Hillsborough counties.  If we are to learn anything from successful stadium projects elsewhere, it's that they're a lot easier to fund by spreading the tax subsidies across multiple counties.

But while local officials have balked at the slightest notion of paying for a stadium located in a different county, Mike Salerno reports this weekend that the two counties are talking about pledging $100,000 each to try and convince Tim Burton to shoot his new movie, "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" in Tampa Bay.  The money would only be awarded if the production documents the money it spends here on things like hotel rooms.

Aside from the fact that $200,000 is a lot of money and warm-weather states like Florida would be far-better off if nobody offered handouts to's encouraging that multiple agencies would reach across the Bay for the betterment of the region.

But some important questions to ask:
  1. Can/will the subsidies guarantee the majority of the movie is shot in Tampa Bay - and will the location be abundantly clear to moviegoers?
  2. Could a movie about "peculiar children" drive tourism the way Winter the Dolphin does? Or will it simply have the (lack of) effect that Spring Breakers did?
  3. Will the subsidy offer truly benefit the region or just prompt Sarasota & Charlotte counties, where the book is based, to spend more in subsidies themselves?  A bidding war is not in the region's best-interests.
  4. Is it $200k well-spent? Rebates for hotel rooms could indicate the jobs aren't going to local workers. Will the subsidies require 90% local workers? Will there be any guarantee of high-wage jobs?
No matter what, all of the players in the Pinellas/Hillsborough economic community should also read the Baton Rogue Advocate's monster investigation, "Giving Away Louisiana," which details how tax incentives have turned Louisiana into a mega film capital...but the program is a "money-loser" that's "financially unhealthy."

UPDATE: Hillsborough commissioners passed their half of the subsidy, according to Mitch Perry, who writes the funding is contingent upon Pinellas approving $100k as well.  However, he also reports the money is contingent upon Burton basing his office headquarters in Hillsborough County, proving an earlier point of mine that Tampa Bay isn't one single community, but lots of cities that still compete with each other.


  1. This is why I'm not against stadium subsidies. Sure its a private enterprise, but its one I get enjoyment from. The government is hell-bent to throw money after foolish enterprises, so it may as well be one I actually care about.

    1. Or, the government could not throw money at foolish enterprises at all....

      What's the difference between an earmark and "pork?" Whether it's in your district or someone else's.

      Folks love government spending when it benefits them, but hate it when it doesn't. The problem with bottomless sports subsidies is that they don't benefit an endless number of people.