Archive for April, 2009
(April 28, 2009) – - Do you think that the Virginia Beach City Council should develop a business plan and demonstrate to all citizens that spending additional millions in the Resort Area is justified? Or, do you think it’s OK for council to keep chucking more taxpayers money into tourism projects without an estimate of the return on the expenditure of our tax dollars ? Or, maybe you believe that council has developed a business plan, realized that the numbers are not what they want, so they filed the plan in that infamous “round file.”
For a review of your tax millions already spent by council on tourism projects go to http://www.virginianewssource.com/vbt0001/Maj_proj1.html. The first section of the report shows projects completed at a total cost of at least $660 million. The second section shows projects in various planning stages, but does not include estimates for a headquarters hotel for the convention center and the entertainment venue at the Dome Site. Total cost of all of the planned projects will exceed $1.6 billion. For an estimate of the headquarters hotel and Dome Site projects, referencehttp://virginianewssource.com/boconnor/blog1.php/2009/04/13/more-debt
To fund the two new projects, council has decided to avoid a citizens referendum, again, by borrowing through the Economic Development Authority (EDA) and by using the Public Private Partnership for Educational Infrastructure Act (PPEA). What is PPEA?
The Commonwealth of Virginia passed a hybrid law called The Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002 (PPEA). The act grants a public entity (For example the City of Virginia Beach) the authority to create public-private partnerships for the development of a wide range of projects for public use. Those allowable projects are listed as “qualifying projects”.
(April 16, 2009) – - In Virginia Beach, one of the council’s stated goals is “economic vitality.” In general , the term economic vitality means striving for new businesses with high-paying jobs and opportunities for the citizens of Virginia Beach. To the City Council of Virginia, economic vitality seems to mean spending large sums of money on tourism projects and on the Convention Visitor Bureau, but not on the Department of Economic Development.
According to the latest update presented to City Council at the February retreat, the operating budget for the Convention Visitor Bureau (CBV) was $40.8 million to support 136 people. Of that, 82 people serve in the convention center at a cost of $6.5 million. As part of the multimillion dollar budget, $18 million is allocated to the Tourism Growth Investment Fund (TGIF).
In contrast to the Bureau, the Departmental of Economic Development (DED) received $2.6 million to support 17 people.
(April 13, 2009) – - The planned headquarters hotel for the convention center and an entertainment venue for the Dome Site will both be funded using more borrowed money through public private partnerships (PPP) for each. How much more debt will these two projects add to the taxpayers’ already too-heavy debt burden?
Currently, Virginia Beach taxpayers are paying $15.2 million per year to pay for the convention center. (We are buying the convention center on time using borrowed money just as you would pay for your home or your car. The convention center will cost $307 million not the $202 million often stated by Virginia Beach City Council.) In an addition to the $15.2 million per year to buy the convention center, taxpayers, as reported in a presentation to city Council on April 17, 2007, also pay $5.4 million per year for the operation expenses of the convention center. The total annual costs of the convention center is, of course, $20.6 million.
(April 9, 2009) – - To help close the budget deficit, the Virginia Beach City Council should redirect tax revenue that we already have. Currently, council takes $20 million of tax revenue from our general fund and transfers that money to the Dedicated Funds account for expenditures on tourism projects.
Tax revenues used by council include meal tax revenue, hotel lodging tax revenue both in excess of the actual tax revenue collected in the resort area, and all (citywide) of the amusement tax revenue.
For example, in the year 2007 the citywide meal tax totaled $47.7 million. City Council uses 36.4% of all the citywide meal tax ($17.3 million) for the Dedicated Funds account that are subsequently used for tourism related projects.