Friday, December 16, 2016

#TroxRox: Eliminate local taxpayer subsidies to #SxSW....

"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

We're actually in the process of developing a more comprehensive proposal that encompasses this issue, but in the meantime Ellen Troxclair hits on the basic unfairness of asking local taxpayers to subsidize for-profit enterprises:
In 2016, it was estimated that 230,000 people came to Austin during the spring festival season, which also the city’s most popular time for tourism. SXSW has helped put Austin on the map, pouring millions into the local economy and boosting local restaurants, hotels and businesses. It is a vital event for our city.

But, it’s not without its drawbacks for full-time residents, the vast majority of whom do not attend the event. Traffic is even more of a nightmare. The city is crowded, noisy and littered.

It is unfair to ask Austinites to put up with these inconveniences year in and year out — and then be forced to pay for it, too. Our already property tax-burdened residents should not foot the bill for the ever-increasing public safety costs associated with these special events.

Despite a previous commitment to finding a long-term solution to this perennial problem, the city is continuing to ignore it. The persistence of this issue is frustrating, given such an obvious solution.

If the city deems it necessary to provide financial incentives to large, for-profit events that drive tourism in Austin, we should do it through hotel occupancy taxes — the city’s huge and growing pot of money set up specifically for this purpose.


It’s time for the city to take the growing burden of these public safety costs off the backs of taxpayers. A simple change could collect fees from the tourists who attend the event, continue to provide an incentive to SXSW, protect the current recipients of hotel occupancy tax funds and provide relief to taxpayers. Everyone wins.

This is yet another opportunity for the City Council to address Austin’s affordability crisis without impacting critical city services. According to the city’s calculations, the property tax burden for the median-value home has risen 29.2 percent since 2012. Over that same time period, the median-family income has only risen 3.7 percent. This proportion is wildly unsustainable.
We'll have more to say on this topic in late-December or early-January (hint: The Legisalture has jurisdiction.) but, for now, read the whole thing here.

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