Branson has no risk if airport fails or does it?

When the announcement was made that AirTran Airline would be ceasing its direct Milwaukee Branson flight less than three weeks after its initiation the reaction within the community was mixed. Some had the “I told you so attitude,” some the “I don’t care attitude” and still others the “We’re getting another flight attitude.”

Some were concerned that if this was the harbinger of what is to come for the airport, that the city of Branson or Taney County could be liable for all or a portion of the airports $150 million in private debt financing. For what it matters, based on the public information that is available, the Ole Seagull believes there is no reasonable way that either the City of Branson or Taney County has any legal obligation to repay any of the private $150 million in debt used to build the airport.

The private investors who invested the $150 million are the ones who stand to lose their investment if the airport operation doesn’t go as planned. A July 2007 Bloomberg.Com report said, “The Branson Regional Airport Transportation Development District (BRATDD) plans to sell $117 million of high-risk, high-yield bonds to finance a new privately developed airport near a tourist area known for its country music and live entertainment.” It continued, “The Branson airport deal comprises unrated securities maturing from 2013 through 2037 that are expected to have a top yield of about 6.5 percent, according to the bond offering documents. Citigroup will underwrite the deal.”

According to the May 14 and 16, 2007 records of the Taney County Commission, Taney County is leasing the land the airport is on to the BRATDD and the BRATDD was going to issue up to $150 million in revenue bonds to build the airport. The Notice of the Public Hearing said, “The bonds will be revenue obligations of the District [BRATDD], payable solely from revenues derived by the District from lease payments made under the operating lease to the Company for the Airport.”

There is a misconception that the city of Branson is responsible for paying $2 million per year to the airport. The reality is that under an agreement penned with the airport developers by the city administration in power prior to the 2007 elections, the city is obligated to pay the airport $8.24 per passenger that disembarks at the Branson Airport that did not originally board in Branson. There is a $2 million dollar per year cap on the payments. Although not limited to first time visitors to Branson, the payment is limited to passengers arriving at the airport. The lower the number of qualified passengers arriving at the airport the less the city pays. Zero passengers equal zero payment.

In the opinion of an Ole Seagull, although the citizens of the City of Branson and Taney County should be pretty well insulated from any direct legal liability should the airport fail that might not be the case for those who purchased the reported high-risk, high-yield, and unrated bonds. They should hope that passenger research and estimates used to forecast revenues are more accurate for other areas than they were for the Milwaukee Market.

On the other hand, our community and citizens do have a vested interest. If the airport fails what does that do to the reputation of the Branson Area in terms of economic development etc? Can any reasonable person really believe that the new lower air fare rates out of Springfield either would have happened in the first place or will be maintained without a viable Branson Airport? “Ah Seagull, what if things went south for the airport, is there a possibility of a “bailout?” Now how could an Ole Seagull know the answer to that one?

A Baker’s Dozen on low cost air fares to Branson

The age of low air fares to Branson have arrived and it is thanks to the “Branson Airport (BKG) which is located approximately 10 miles south of Branson. That thanks is based on two aspects, the low cost air fares of the carriers actually serving BKG and the fact that low priced service has influenced and lowered the air fares fares currently available through the air carriers serving the “Springfield-Branson National Airport (SGF),” located about 45 miles northwest of Branson.

That said, the Ole Seagull has some questions that he’s wondering if he can get answers to. “Yes,” he knows he could probably pick up the phone and call people, but then some will return the calls others won’t and besides, whether they are good questions or not, at least they are on the public record and can serve as the start of a public discourse on the availability of low fares to Branson and how to let Branson’s prospective guests know about them.

1. Does the average theatre, attraction, or hotel care whether or not the person purchasing their tickets or renting their rooms flew in through BKG, SGF, STL or East Kishnif?

2. In fact, forget about flying, as long as they are alive, breathing and have paid for a ticket or room does the average theatre, attraction, or hotel care how the person purchasing those tickets or renting their rooms got there? Does it really make any difference whether they came by car, bus, motorcycle, moped, boat, train, canoe, etc. or any combination thereof?

3. Would the answers to 1 and 2 above be any different for restaurants, retail shops, convention centers, etc.?

4. How much has the Branson Lakes/Lakes Area CVB (CVB) and the Branson Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District (TCED) spent in the last year promoting low cost air fares to Branson?

5. Was one of the primary action items of those ads the intent to get the person reading the ad to go to the city of Branson owned web site, currently under lease to the TCED, “” and, from its front page, take an action that would allegedly give them information on the low fares available to Branson?

6. Is the primary source of information on that site talking about low air fares located at, Click here to see page.

7. Does that page read basically the same the morning of May 16 as it has for the last few weeks?

8. In view of the impact that the new airport was anticipated to have and is having on low cost air fares and the current economic environment, what research has either the CVB or TCED done on the availability of low cost airfares to Branson?

9. As of the morning of May 16, when a potential Branson guests who has viewed the CVB/TCED ads about low fares to Branson takes the action prescribed in the ads will they get information on all the low cost air fares available to Branson?

10. If the answer to 9 above is anything less than a definite “Yes,” especially since taxpayer money is currently being used to promote “low cost air fares to Branson,” shouldn’t it be done in a manner that potential Branson guests get enough information so that they can make an informed choice?

11. Was any of that money spent in the Indianapolis, IN market?

12.  If so why?

13.  As of the morning of May 16, for a trip between Indianapolis, IN and either SGF or BKG, departing on July 11 and returning on July 18, what airline actually has the lowest air fare?

10 or 10 million Branson visitors, what’s the difference if they don’t do business with you?

Most can remember the old Fram Oil Filter ads that said, “You can pay me now or pay me later.” The gist of the ad was that, in terms of a motor vehicle’s efficient operation, one could pay for an oil filter now and eliminate the problems a dirty filter would cause later or not purchase the oil filter now and pay later for the problems caused by a dirty oil filter.

Marketing works for destination and individual businesses basically the same way. Just like the oil filter it costs money that can either be spent now to generate business or can be ignored to be paid for later by the business that is lost because of the lack of effective marketing.

An an Ole Seagull’s opinion the destination marketing of Branson is where it all begins. It is what creates the “Tourist Pie” of tourists coming to experience Branson. It is the size of that pie that directly affects the chances for the economic success of each tourist business in Branson, the bigger the pie the better the chances for success.

If an Ole Seagull were to guess he’d say that the majority of destination marketing is done using taxpayer funds, controlled either by the city of Branson or the Branson Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District, via a contract with the Branson Lakes/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. He would further hazard a guess that the majority of the rest of the funds spent on destination marketing come from the time share industry and various other businesses that sell tickets, lodging etc.

The vast majority of businesses, shows, attractions etc., do not spend their individual marketing dollars on the destination marketing of Branson. They spend it in the hope of getting people already sold on the destination of Branson to do business with them. At the end of the day, to a particular business, it makes no difference if 10 million people come to Branson if it doesn’t get enough of those 10 million people to spend enough money in that business to provide for its financial success.

It is commonly called “intercept marketing” and is a concept that has been used in Branson for decades. The means of intercept marketing are virtually endless including but not limited to discount coupons, bill boards, ads in free tourist publications, TV, and radio, and giving different organizations a commission for marketing, selling and servicing your tourist related product. The purpose of most intercept marketing is to intercept the Branson visitor before they spend their time and money with someone else.

The bad news is that your business is competing with every other tourist business for each tourist’s money and time. Perhaps more important is the answer to the question, “Are the standard methods that have been used for intercept marketing in the past the best methods for the present?” An Ole Seagull would suggest, except for the better known shows and attractions, that if the method depends on the visitor being in Branson before being intercepted the answer, increasingly, just might be “No.”

Branson’s TCED Board must earn the benefit of the doubt

When Bob McDowell was running for the position of Branson Alderman in 2007 he said, the leadership of city government had to “earn back the benefit of the doubt position” from the community. For what it is worth, based on what he personally has witnessed and been involved with this week and what he believes has gone on behind closed doors for over the last three years, an Ole Seagull would suggest that the Branson/Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District Board (TCED) has to earn back the benefit of the doubt position from the stakeholders, the Branson Lakes Area CVB (CVB), paid staff and volunteers of the CVB, and the tax payers who authorized the tax.

The CVB has been doing the marketing for the Branson area for the TCED for the last three years under a contract that expires on Sep. 30. The contract has a provision that provides the TCED with the flexibility to renew the contract for up to another three years without going out for other bids (RFP).

A major agenda item for the TCED’s April 20 meeting was to “Discuss marketing RFP options for Fiscal 2010.” As part of that process, the TCED was presented with letters from two major stakeholder groups, “The League of Branson Theatre Owners and Show Producers” and the “Branson Lakes Area Lodging Association,” expressing their great satisfaction with the marketing efforts of the CVB and encouraging the TCED to extend the contract.

In addition, Dan Lennon, Vice President Marketing & Public Relations, made a presentation summing up the results of the CVB marketing efforts for the years 2006 and 2008. In spite of the challenges, all the following areas were up from 2005, the year before the CVB marketing program went into effect, Rate of First Time Visitors, City of Branson Sales Tax, City of Branson Tourism Tax, TCED Tourism Tax, Spending Per Party, Average Length of Stay, Overall Visitations, Family Visitations, and Overall Visitations. Amazingly, this was done, according to the report, at a Marketing Cost Per Visitor of $.92 as opposed to $2.41 for Las Vegas and $2.20 for Wisconsin Dells.

What was the reaction of the TCED regarding the CVB contract extension? Among other things, a comments by a TCED member indicating the CVB had packed the audience, another comment by a TCED member, blurted out to the Chairman during Lennon’s presentation, that they had to leave by 4:00 p.m., comments that things needed to be coordinated with the city of Branson and the passage of a motion that had something to do with the TCED having its financial oversight committee attend a future meeting.

Having sat there and not clearly understood the motion the Ole Seagull wrote the TCED asking for the specific wording of the motion they had approved. He received a reply from the TCED’s Chairman stating the wording would not be forthcoming because “It is possible when the board reads the minutes that the motion Jan lists is different from what board members believe they voted on. That is why the minutes and motions are not final till the Board approves them. Please, do not try to quote us till we have approved. We want to be accurate and follow procedure.”

To an Ole Seagull the TCED’s actions at the meeting and Akers reply represent the attitude of the TCED toward the CVB, the stakeholders, and the general public. An attitude that it is their game and they will play it the way they want, how they want, and when they want. To him it seems that they are failing to realize the potential impact of their actions, or inactions, on the marketing of Branson and its stakeholders, the people who have invested their lives and money in their businesses and all the others who rely directly or indirectly on those businesses for their income.

An Ole Seagull would suggest that if the TCED wants the benefit of the doubt they are going to have to earn it back. In his opinion, their actions this week have done nothing in that regard.

City of Branson sets example for TCED and others to follow

The recent allegations made against the city, regarding alleged flood plain mapping issues and Certificates of Occupancy for Building 1 through 6 at Branson Landing, by its acting Interim Director of Planning and Development at the Board of Alderman’s March 24 meeting, gave the current city administration a choice. They could have done what the Ole Seagull believes the very administration who created the problem would have done, handled it behind closed doors and out of public view as much as possible or they could handle the issue out in the open and in public view.

Almost within seconds of the allegations being made, Branson Mayor Raeanne Presley said they were very serious allegations, appreciated that they were brought forward, and pointed out that more information was needed. More importantly, however, she set the tenor for the type of public and open discussion that would follow. She suggested that the board and city administrator would “absolutely be completely transparent” regarding the issues and said, “At a future meeting, as soon as we have all the information, we will present it to you and the public.”

That public meeting was held less than a week later on March 30 and the issues were fully and completely discussed. Copies of the available documents were available for the public, each side gave a presentation after which the public had an opportunity to speak and ask questions as did the board.

It wasn’t either pretty or easy but, in terms of process, open government and public participation, it was a shining light and an example worthy of emulation. Rather than look for a way to close the meetings and hide the issues and their processes from the public they didn’t even blink as they kept the process open and as transparent as possible.

This week another government entity, the Branson/Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District Board (TCED) will have an opportunity to decide what process they will use in deciding how millions of tax payer dollars will be spent in marketing Branson. Its current contract with the Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), a division of the Branson Lakes/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, expires September 30.

The 2006 contract, which was fully negotiated behind closed doors with no participation from the general public, contains a provision stating “The District, in its sole discretion, may extend this contract, by notice to the Contractor sixty (60) days before contract termination, on a year to year basis for an additional (3) years as mutually agreed upon in writing with the Contractor.”

Leaving the perplexing problem of how a contract is extended “on a year to year basis” for “an additional (3) years” aside, if the contract is not automatically renewed a Request For Proposal (RFP) must be issued and a “new” contractor selected from those responding to the RFP. The CVB could submit a proposal and might very well be the one chosen, but that’s not the point.

It is not the decision on whether or not the TCED will give the marketing contract to the Branson CVB without putting out a new RFP or, if they do go out with an RFP, who is eventually chosen. It is simply the process of how they go about making the decision. Will they emulate the example the city of Branson set of open processes and public participation or will they look for ways to exclude the public from the process and operate behind closed doors as they did in 2006? An Ole Seagull’s prayer is that they will follow the city of Branson’s example.

Whistleblower or failure to do the job?

Recently the Branson area has been shocked by the accusations of the city of Branson being involved in fraud and cover-ups made by Ruth Denham, who was the city’s Interim Director of the city’s Planning and Development Department until a new Director was hired this week. What’s amazing to an Ole Seagull is Denham’s sudden epiphany and concern for the basements in Buildings 2 and 3.

After all, it’s not like they were new news or that she had just found out about them. In fact, according the very documentation Denham submitted on March 30, Sam Proffer, a former employee who worked in the Planning and Development Department while she was its assistant director, put her and all city officials on notice.

According to Denham’s information, on July 23, 2007 Proffer “ emailed Paul Link and Terry Dody stating in part, ‘It is my recommendation that the City not sign any CAF [Community Acknowledgement Form] for any reason until all of the buildings down at the Landing have met the requirements of our own floodplain ordinances and the NFIP regulation.’” “Proffer went on to say, “If FEMA does approve the application, and certain buildings are non-compliant are removed from the floodplain due to insufficient or inaccurate information, the City will have participated in misleading  other regulatory agencies, lenders, tenants, etc.”

Now almost three years later Denham, who had the information since July 2007, steps forward accusing the city of fraud. In her March 30 memo she describes the situation as “a classic story of money, greed, and cover-up, all of which I fear as a citizen may land on the lap of the taxpayers of the City of Branson, including myself.”

The Ole Seagull knows it will be very unpopular to point out that Denham knew or certainly should have known about the situation involving the CAF since at least July of 2007. Yet, until recent days there has been no record of her making the appropriate city officials or FEMA aware of the fraud she is now allegedly so concerned about. As a citizen, the Ole Seagull doesn’t look at Denham as a courageous whistle blower standing up for what she believes in. What he sees is simply a government employee, charged with a responsibility that did not fulfill that responsibility.

In his opinion, Denham was the assistant director of the department and, if she believed Proffer was right, should have taken action on Proffer’s email. Yet, in spite of her position as “assistant director” of the department what does the record show, based on the information presented so far, nothing, absolutely nothing at all. Until now that is.

Whether one agrees with Proffer or not at least he had the courage to put his conviction in writing and take a stand. That’s more than can be said for the number two person in the department, the very person now accusing others of fraud and cover up, etc.

When a person points their finger at someone, they have at least three fingers pointing back at themselves. An Ole Seagull can only wonder if the process of selecting a new director of the Planning and Development Department had more to do with Denham’s recent accusations than her concern about what “may land on the lap of the taxpayer of the City of Branson.”

Where’s the beef or at least the flood plain at Branson Landing?

The number one question the Ole Seagull has been asked all week is, “What do you think about the bombshell allegations that Ruth Denham, the interim director of Planning and Development for the city of Branson, has alleged about the city of Branson? Allegations relating to it’s involvement with potential fraud and other issues concerning the city’s involvement with the Branson Landing flood plain Map revisions, information submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA,) and the issuing of final Certificates of Occupancy (CO) for certain buildings at Branson Landing?”

His answer is reminiscent of an old Wendy’s ad, “Where’s the beef?”

In her March 24 memo to the Mayor, city administrator, and board of aldermen, Denham states she has been working for the city for thirteen years, is currently employed as the interim director of Planning and Development for the city of Branson and prior to that time had worked as the Assistant Director of Planning and Development. Said another way, she has been either the number one or two position in the city’s Planning and Development Department during most, if not all the time the issues she alleges have been going on.

The memo goes to state, “It has been documented from the very beginning of the building plan review of the Branson Landing project that buildings 1-6 do not meet and most likely were never going to meet either the Branson Municipal Code (BMC) or NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) requirements.” The first thought that comes to an Ole Seagull’s mind is how much more potentially valuable to the city and its citizens it would have been if she had taken the action she is now taking back during the “building plan review of the Branson Landing Project” so the issues could have been addressed prior to building the Landing.

Her memo then goes on to say, “”Regardless, certain members of city government have chosen to cover up this fact from FEMA and our citizens,” alleges lying to the public, and goes on to say, “I as an employee am being pressured to go along and be part of what I believe to be illegalities, and will not do so.” Interestingly, the memo is devoid of the names of any “member of city government” that chose to cover up the flood plain issues she points out, is lying, or has allegedly pressured her “to go along and be part of what” she believes are illegal acts.

In the Sep. 5, 2007 edition of this paper in an article entitled, “Branson Landing flood plan map revisions not a life safety issue,” the Ole Seagull reported on the very public process that was taking place as HCW Development Company, LLC, was submitting a “Letter of Map Revision (LOMR),” to FEMA requesting a revision of the 100 year flood plain map for the area encompassing the Branson Landing project and other relevant information. News accounts since Denham’s allegations indicate that FEMA approved the LOMR in Feb. 2008 and the very buildings she is talking about are now out of the flood plain. That article is available on line at www.BransonCourier.Com by typing the term “LOMR” in the “Search Box” in the upper right hand corner.

And Branson’s marketing organization for the next three years is?

Last week’s Letter to the Editor entitled, “Branson Tourism Board chooses to spend millions in secret,” talked about the use of exceptions to Missouri’s Sunshine Law by the “Branson Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District Board (Board)” as it goes through the process of using the millions of dollars in taxpayer funds it received for the marketing of the District. Normally, like last week’s letter which is available on line at www.TheOleSeagull.Com, the Ole Seagull uses a lot of facts and figures to back up his opinions, but this week, he’s going to go with his heart and gut.

A number of people have commented about the statement, “Why all the secrecy back in 2006? No one knows because it was all done behind closed doors with the public excluded, but were an Ole Seagull asked he’d opine, ‘They wanted to make sure the ‘right’ organization got the contract.’” In the Ole Seagull’s opinion he believes the “Branson Lakes Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB)” was awarded the multiyear multimillion dollar contract as much for nonmarketing reasons as for marketing reasons and, strangely perhaps for some, he has no problem with that result.

Were the Ole Seagull sitting on the Board at that time, based on what he knew, he would have voted for the CVB to get the contract. His vote would have been based on his belief that the “stake holders” of Branson, those investing their lives, blood, effort, and money in making Branson what it is, should be the ones controlling the marketing of Branson. In addition, at that time the CVB was a couple of years into the new marketing program that had been initiated as a result of a city sponsored Branding Study and, in the opinion of an Ole Seagull, with the limited marketing funds that were available was doing a great job.

The thing he would not have done however, is stand still for the Board conducting most of the original selection process under an exception to the Sunshine Law with minimal public participation. The process itself continued and perpetrated a perception about the “Chamber” and the Board that could have been substantially mitigated had the Board elected to conduct their business in an open and public manner.

The CVB marketing contract is up this year, but there is a provision that permits the automatic renewal of the contract for another three years without the Board going through the RFP Process or even looking at other potential firms or organizations to do Branson’s marketing. For what it’s worth, were the Ole Seagull sitting on the Board he would recommend that RFP’s go out so that the community could evaluate other ideas out there that might result in Branson being marketed more effectively, but most of all, he would recommend that the process and all discussions be conducted in an open and public manner.

He truly believes that at the end of the day the process would more than likely result in the contract being awarded to the CVB. The “more than likely” comes into play because, in an Ole Seagulls opinion, it should take one WOW of a presentation, i.e. getting the same results for a lot less money or “this idea is so great it will bring millions more to Branson than with what we are currently doing,” to give the marketing contract to anyone else other than the CVB.

In his heart of hearts he just doesn’t believe the WOWs out there. Even with its imperfections, the current economy, floods, gas prices, and whatever else has come Branson’s way, Branson’s CVB marketing program has done an outstanding job of marketing Branson during some of the worst economic times most have seen in their lifetimes.

Branson Tourism Board chooses to spend millions in secret

It’s amazing, the Ole Seagull never thought he would see a government entity that operated more in secret than the city of Branson administration that was in place prior to the 2007 elections, but he was wrong. The way the Branson Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District Board (Board) decides to spend millions of dollars in public funds, comparatively speaking, makes that old administration appear like it was conducting its business publically on the “Wheel of Fortune.”

Missouri’s Sunshine Law is very specific stating “It is the public policy of this state that meetings, records, votes, actions, and deliberations of public governmental bodies be open to the public unless otherwise provided by law.” Even where the law authorizes exceptions to that policy it states, “Sections 610.010 to 610.200 shall be liberally construed and their exceptions strictly construed to promote this public policy.”
Oh, it gets even more specific. The Sunshine Law goes on to state, “Nothing in sections 610.010 to 610.028 shall be construed as to require a public governmental body to hold a closed meeting, record or vote to discuss or act upon any matter.”

A favorite move for the TCED Board is the standard alleged use of two exceptions to the Sunshine Law. The first is Subsection 610.021(1) relating to “Legal actions, causes of action or litigation involving a public governmental body and any confidential or privileged communications between a public governmental body or its representatives and its attorneys.” The second is Subsection 610.021(12) relating to “Sealed bids and related documents, until the bids are opened; and sealed proposals and related documents or any documents related to a negotiated contract until a contract is executed, or all proposals are rejected.”
When one considers the way the TCED Board awarded the initial contract to the “Branson/Lakes Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, a division of the Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce” in October of 2006, it makes a mockery out of the intent of the Sunshine Law. The TCED Board invoked the provisions of 610.021(12) to keep the public out of the process until they made their decision and announced it.
No member of the public knew who had made what type of presentation or when while competing for the millions of dollars to market Branson. Even under the old Branson administration the process was very public including public presentations by each entity interested in doing the marketing for the city. Why all the secrecy back in 2006? No one knows because it was all done behind closed doors with the public excluded, but were an Ole Seagull asked he’d opine, “They wanted to make sure the “right” organization got the contract.”

That contract expires Sep. 31 this year. Any bets on who is going to get the new contract or if the TCED Board will have enough respect for the tax-paying public to honor the intent of the Sunshine Law?

Questions on Branson Area East West Corridor

On April 7, Taney County voters will have an opportunity to vote on whether or not to authorize up to a quarter of a cent additional retail sales tax to build a road, known as the East West Corridor (EWC). According to the ballot language the ECW will run from near the intersection of East Highway 76 and J Highway to U.S Highway 65 at the Hollister interchange just south of Branson. One could get the impression that if the voters approve the tax that the whole amount would go towards financing the EWC and that the EWC will provide a “straight” connection with the interchange, but, in terms of practical reality, is that the case?

In following all the news reports on the EWC the Ole Seagull has not noticed any substantive comment on the effect of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) on the financing of the EWC. In Branson alone won’t the TIF will eat up one half of the taxes collected at Branson Landing and Branson Hills, including Wal-Mart, Target etc?

If that is the case, only $.50 of every dollar collected at either Branson Landing or Branson Hills will go to pay for the EWC and the other $.50 of it will go to pay off Branson’s TIFs. The Ole Seagull hasn’t read anything about the potential impact of Hollister’s TIF’s on the project. Does that mean there isn’t any?
Doesn’t the “straight line” of the EWC kind of turn into a “zig zag” at its eastern end at the intersection of Birch? Won’t there be some sort of traffic control signal put in at that point? Isn’t there a little zig to another traffic signal at Industrial and the U.S. Highway 65 and a “zag” to another traffic signal actually controlling entry and exiting from U.S. Highway 65? Has any recognized government study been conducted on how the “zigzag” could impact traffic flow?

Is there any recognized government study establishing the need for the EWC that takes into consideration the improved levels of service for Highway 76 traffic that will result when the new Lake Taneycomo Bridge project is completed? Does Taney County have a prioritized list of infrastructure projects, transportation, bridges, water, sewer etc.? If so where is the EWC on that list? Is it a “need” or a “want?”

The last two questions are perhaps the most important and it is addressed to each of the Taney County Commissioners personally and individually, “In view of the current economic situation and its potential impact on the revenues of Taney County, do you believe that the building of the EWC, at this time, is the best use of limited tax payer resources?” The second is, “If the voters vote for the EWC will you guarantee that no Taney County real property taxes will be assessed against Taney County residents until the EWC is paid off?