What do “doodoo,” TIFs and the Branson Airport have in common?

The simple answer is, “The taxpaying citizen and businesses of Branson hereinafter called DDO for “the Doodooed on,” are paying for each.” How is it possible that the DDO got “doodooed on in the first place?” For the same reason the Ole Seagull gets DDO while following after the horse in the parade. The horse does what it wants to do when it wants to and really doesn’t care what the cost is to anyone else is.

For what it’s worth here’s the Ole Seagull’s take on the situation. In spite of assertions to the contrary by the administration that was voted out of office in the 2007 election, the fact is that not only are the citizens of Branson responsible for the TIF funds used to finance Branson Landing, but have, to the Ole Seagull’s surprise, actually been paying on the  TIF obligations since before Branson Landing even opened using funding from both the city’s General Fund and Transportation Fund. Obviously, those funds are not available for salaries, roads, water and sewer operations, or other city services or expenses.

The Ole Seagull doesn’t claim that he understands the accounting of it. He would bet however, that it is in the millions of dollars each year. This is based on his understanding of the recent TIF Report; the a recent newspaper headline declaring “City out 4.1 million per year for Branson Landing TIF;” Alderman Bob Simmon’s comment “This will affect us for a good many years and limit our ability for capital improvements” and Alderman Rick Todd’s initial reaction when he simply said, “Ouch.”

But wait, the pre 2007 Board was not done with DDO yet. They entered into an Agreement with the Branson Airport, a private for profit business not located in Branson, literally giving them a gift of up to $2 million dollars a year for 30 years.

When the potential legal problems with the agreement, which the Ole Seagull believes is unconscionable, were discovered after the current city administration spent tens of thousands of dollars researching its liabilities under the agreement did the new administration “right the wrong” or at least mitigate its impact on the DDO?

No, instead, using their own words, they, with the exception of Alderman Davis and Williams, took specific action “to lessen the chance of any constitutional challenges to payments made to support this airport facility.” That’s right, as incredulous as it sounds they actually took steps that not only limits any taxpayer legal challenge to the agreement, but, in the Ole Seagull’s opinion, reduces the city’s chance of successfully challenging the agreement.

Economically there is “no free lunch.” As was pointed out at the meeting during the discussion of the TIF report the money to pay the TIF and the Airport will be paid by the DDO one way or the other. It might be higher real estate and property taxes, reduced city services, larger class sizes and cutbacks in the educational services at the school, but one thing is for sure the DDO will pay for the TIF shortfalls and the Airport Gift one way or the other.

Indeed, every time a citizen or guest flushes a “doodoo” in Branson, it is not only a testimony supporting that fact, but as to where the DDO stands in the economic parade. As both the previous board and the new board obligate the DDO for things like TIFs and Airport Gifts, they have been in the process of a five year plan to raise city and water rates and are conducting a study which, if the Ole Seagull doesn’t miss his guess, will increase those rates even farther.

How much would the water and sewer rates of each homeowner and business go down if the city wasn’t losing revenues because of the TIFs, paying off TIFs and gifting the Branson Airport and instead subsidized the water and sewer rates of the DDO? Who knows, but one thing is for sure, instead of less for each flush and drink of water it’s going to cost the DDO more to help pay for it.

To paraphrase the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,”

“Money, money, everywhere,
And all the funds did go;
Money, money, everywhere,
Nor any penny to the DDO.

Related columns:

Attorney Ima Robublind strips for Branson board and $8.24 per Branson bus passenger

Flawed Branson Airport contract taints board as it tries to launder funds

Are Branson officials flushing money down the airport drain?

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