Letter to the Editor: Centers are economic disaster

To the Editor:
Dec 12, 2013

To the Editor:

The city of Lebanon owes the county school system nearly $1 million in tax proceeds for failing to have rendered the correct share of a sales tax.

Mayor Philip Craighead wants Wilson County school system’s share of the sales tax for 30 years that could be generated in a proposed entertainment district for his proposed arena savings account. Now the Ag Committee of the Wislon County Commission has voted affirmatively for a potential funding scenario for its competing county expo center plan that would request a percent of the city of Lebanon’s sales tax.

Craighead has often publicly stated that if his arena proposal were to eventually come to fruition that the city arena and the nearby county expo center would not compete for the same events. Meanwhile, those who advance the county expo center make the same unbelievable claim. Yet on Dec. 9 in the Ag Committee meeting whereby an updated expo center was presented, it was certifiably revealed that, indeed, both centers would compete for the same events.

Lebanon has a population of 26,000. There are perhaps no examples of financially successful taxpayer-funded arenas or expo centers in cities of such size. All such funded event centers require ongoing taxpayer operations subsidy and most fail to generate the sales tax (economic impact) to cover the subsidy, and which a Dec. 4-released expo center feasibility study can be used to demonstrate. 

Craighead proposes a $40 million arena or $70 million financed over 30 years. The county expo center price tag is $9 million or $12 million financed over 20 years. Fortunately, in the real world we currrently have The Mill and the Capitol Theatre as entertainment options. But perhaps in time, and with the largess of taxpayers, Lebanon will, indeed, be the chamber mantra of “the place to be…” the entertainment capitol of Wilson County.    

Derek Dodson

Lebanon    

 

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