When a resident of Branson goes into the Wal-Mart Super Center in Branson Hills they are paying a one percent retail sales tax to be used for marketing. Considering just the retail marketing tax, that’s $1010.00 for $1,000 in taxable purchases. When a resident of Kimberling City or Branson West goes into the Wal-Mart Super Center in Branson West and buys the same $1,000 in purchases their total is only $1000.00 dollars because they have no marketing tax.
Why the difference? The residents of the “Branson Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District (TCED),” covering roughly the area from Indian Point east to the shoreline of Lake Taneycomo, voted to pay a one percent retail tax for “the purpose of promoting tourism in the district.” The residents of Kimberling City and Branson West etc. do not pay a retail marketing tax because they are not in the District and voted against imposing a marketing tax of their own in their own area. Further, although they have had years to do so, as had the Board of the TCED to encourage them to do so, they have not even held a vote to become part of the Branson Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District (TCED).
“Well Seagull, why do we care whether they pay a marketing tax or not. They’re not even in the TCED?” “Would you be more concerned if about $400,000 of funds that the voters approved for the purpose of promoting tourism in the TCED were being diverted out of the TCED to the Table Rock Lake Area Chamber of Commerce each year since about 2008 with no end in sight?”
“Whoa now Seagull, how can that be? Didn’t they vote against a retail marketing tax to help market their businesses?” “Yes they did, but in 2008 the TCED Board decided to funnel about $400,000 per year to the Table Rock Chamber of Commerce so that they would be eligible to receive about $200,000 funding through the Missouri Department of Tourism (MDT).” Their rationale appeared to be that southwest Missouri will be getting an extra $200,000 for marketing from the state.
“But Seagull, the voters voted for the tax to be used to promote businesses within the TCED not over in Kimberling City or southwestern Missouri. What good does it do a lodging facility, restaurant, attraction or retail store in the TCED if someone is eating at restaurants, staying at lodging facilities, renting boats, paying for attractions, shopping or otherwise spending their vacation money outside of the TCED?”
In an Ole Seagull’s mind, “Not much, not much at all.” That’s even more so when it is considered that of the $400,000 paid each year to Table Rock Lake Area Chamber of Commerce $200,000 is a gift and the other $200,000 is tied up until it is repaid. Is it inappropriate to expect that cities like Kimberling City, Branson West etc, benefiting from tax dollars paid by people to market their own local businesses, ante up for their own marketing? With the generous gift that the TCED is giving them each year where is their incentive to either join the TCED or vote in their own marketing tax? To an Ole Seagull, the biggest question of all is “How much media and advertising can be bought for $400,000 to directly promote and benefit tourism and the businesses within the TCED?
At a very minimum it would seem appropriate for the TCED board to say, “‘Enough is enough. As of December 31 2011 all TCED marketing funds will be directed to the direct promotion and marketing of tourism and the businesses within the TCED.” Isn’t it time for the businesses and citizens of Kimberling City, Branson West and their environs to ante up for their own marketing and stop sponging off their neighbors? An Ole Seagull thinks so. What do you think?