Thursday, August 24, 2017

#atxcouncil: #TROXROX, proposes redirecting corporate welfare into core services....

Ellen Troxclair

"I love the Lord, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications."
Psalm 116:1

This is a fantastic idea:
Today’s City Council budget work session will almost certainly feature discussion about a proposal from Council Member Ellen Troxclair that seeks to reallocate money from the city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax to pay for more expenses for Austin’s parks, which she argues will free up money from the General Fund budget that can pay for historic building preservation and other community priorities.

The crux of the proposal centers around the fact that by law Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue can only be used for tourism-related expenses, such as the budget for the Austin Convention Center, marketing and upkeep of local sites that are considered a draw for visitors. Troxclair’s Option A proposal seeks to use much of the expected annual increase in HOT revenue next year to pay for $11.8 million in “parks and preservation” expenses that currently come out of the General Fund. 

A resolution headed for next week’s Council meeting – co-sponsored by Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and Council members Leslie Pool and Ann Kitchen – directs city staff to prepare budget documents and any ordinance language needed to redistribute HOT revenue in the manner Troxclair has outlined.
More here:
Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo, a co-sponsor of the Troxclair proposal, emphasized that the measure was not attempting to divert HOT funds to general parks spending, but rather to “cultural facilities” run by the Parks and Recreation Department. 

Cities are allowed to use up to 15 percent of HOT revenue on “cultural arts” projects and up to 15 percent on historic preservation. The city has already maxed out its cultural arts allocation, but it could still spend millions more to preserve historic structures. 

Other Council members expressed general skepticism of the convention center’s value, pushing back on the argument that the city is missing out on economic opportunities by not expanding the existing center so that it can attract and accommodate bigger events. 

“Being the place where all of the biggest conventions are isn’t necessarily a plus for our city, particularly downtown, where things are so darned congested,” said Council Member Leslie Pool.
A few thoughts:
  •  We partially feel like we're commenting about this subject under duress, because "hotel occupancy taxes" are a politically directed extra cost that reduces the amount of money tourists have to spend in actual businesses.  Thus, they should be repealed in their entirety.  Until the legislature takes that step, however, the Troxclair et. al. proposal represents a significant improvement upon the status quo.
  • "Visit Austin," from which the majority of the funding will be re-allocated, is basically a politically controlled slush fund.
  • They say that if you live long enough, anything is possible; we only bring this up because we never thought we'd see Kathie Tovo and Ellen Troxclair on the same side of anything.
    • That being said, considering that the Convention Center is in her district, it's noteworthy that Tovo supports this proposal.

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