Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hillsborough Stadium Cheerleaders Trying to Hide All the Other Great Things Bed Taxes Could Pay For

Hillsborough County's politicians are lying in an effort to get a baseball stadium built...and it could cost Tampa a chance to build some really great community assets.

The Times' Steve Contorno has an exclusive story today (now that the Tampa Tribune doesn't exist anymore) indicating Hillsborough Co. is surging toward the $30M/yr mark in bed tax collections, which would allow it to add the magical sixth cent of taxes on any tourist stay in the county.

That could means another $6M/yr in bondable cash (about $75M total) toward construction of a new stadium.  While $75M may be a drop in the $500M bucket, it's a start for cash-starved Hillsborough.

However, that money could go toward a number of other projects, and politicians with baseball on the mind (looking at you, Ken Hagan) don't want you to know it.  They're spreading mistruths, suggesting those bed tax revenues can only be spent on tourism promotion (like ad campaigns) or pro sports facilities. This is a lie.
There's a destructive attitude in Hillsborough (and other places) that if bed tax money can't be used on anything important, you may as well give it to pro sports teams. But productive conversations about the county's future require transparency.

Here's just a few of the things Hillsborough's bed taxes have paid for in the past:
  • The Tampa Riverwalk
  • The Florida Aquarium
  • MOSI
  • Lowry Park Zoo
  • The Straz Center
  • Tampa Bay Black History Fest
  • Local chambers of commerce
And here's a few more things the bed taxes could pay for if they didn't go to pro teams:
  • Arts, as St. Pete has done at the Dali Museum
  • Redeveloping Channelside Bay Plaza
  • Improving Ben T. Davis - or any other Hillsborough beach - into something tourists might want to visit
  • Building a new multi-modal transit center (may require some financial creativity)
  • Any major event that draw out-of-towners
  • Any other project that increases the number of tourists visiting the county
So bookmark this link, and prepare to educate your elected officials on the topic. Because they're going to be fed a lot of mistruths about the bed tax in the next few months.

UPDATE: Here's audio of Commissioner Hagan glossing right over the fact that tourist taxes can go toward any capital project that draws tourists. Then throws out total B.S. number on Steinbrenner Field economic impact.

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  1. Out of the listed things that you say bed taxes helped paid for, name 1 that draws as much in return as a ballpark would, better yet name 2 or 3 combined?

    1. The Straz Center. Or chambers of commerce. Or Dali!
      At a FRACTION of the cost.

    2. Yah but, In business, its not what you pay for it, its about how much profit you can make from it, so yes they were cheaper, BUT a ball on the otherside of town from Straz would bring in many more millions in positive revenue...

    3. Dude, you have zero economic credibility.

    4. Many in my line of work would say different, work that brings in a lot of local tax revenue from "out-of-towners"...
      Also, I wont say you had "zero economic credibility", but most would say any place you governed would have "zero economic" growth...

  2. The deal for the stadium is very close to being complete. Outskirts of Ybor my friends!

    1. yes, that hotbed of population and corporate support.... good luck

    2. Montreal won't be getting a team. How about all those Canadian teams that made the NHL playoffs, oh wait, they didn't.

    3. Just like the way the Rays made the playoffs in MLB last year? or the year before, or before... oh wait, they didn't

    4. Even the state of Canada fails in the NHL. The country of Montreal wont be allowed to have an MLB team.

    5. Ohhhhh CaannnaaDUH. The country of ever increasing taxes. This means no MLB for Montreal. You can take that to the bank my little Allouette's!

  3. How about the law regarding how bed tax money can be used be changed to support more than just projects that create more tourists, which in turn leads to more traffic congestion and more low paying service jobs? How about allowing it to be used for college scholarships for service workers or for at-risk students, etc.?

    1. They passed a law this year for a few panhandle counties to loosen the restrictions on how that money can be spent.

    2. Probably cause those panhandle co have nothing touristy to invest the money back into...