A recent headline in this paper, “Financial reports show decreases across the board” got the Ole Seagull thinking about history, the present and the future. As he did so what came to mind is the old adage “The more things change the more they stay the same.” To illustrate his thoughts on these issues he is going to use the power of the “Seagulestion,” a rhetorical Seagull question that he thinks he knows the answer to, but is not as positive as he would like to be as to the answer.
The first paragraph of the story reports, “Monthly reports reflected a 9.3 percent decline in sales tax revenues for August as bond payments on the Branson Landing exceed revenues.” Hey that’s good news because it indicates the city is getting revenues from its investment in Branson Landing. Would someone from the city send out a press release explaining in plain English, that most of us could understand, a clear precise list and explanation of exactly what revenues are generated from the Branson Landing that the city is getting and can use for its day to day operations?”
In like manner, it would be helpful if the city of Branson could publish a list of the precise expenditures it makes on an annual basis regarding Branson Landing for both operations and bond and other debt retirement. Hey, while they are at it why don’t they come up with a simple one page report that the normal citizen can look at and determine how much more, or less, the city is paying than they are taking in from Branson Landing?
Other “Seagulestions” come to mind. How much of the city of Branson’s city retail sales taxes collected at Branson Landing can actually be used by the city for current city operational costs? What percentage of the city’s Tourism Tax, the one where 75% goes for infrastructure and its operation and maintenance and 25% for the marketing of Branson, collected at Branson Landing does the city actually get to use for those purposes?
Were the citizens of Branson ever told by a past City Administrator in a public meeting that the city would have no legal responsibility to pay anything on the TIF Bonds should revenues from the project not be sufficient to do so? But wait, weren’t the citizens of Branson all a glitter in the mid 90’s about how the Highroad should be built on an emergency basis to help eliminate the traffic in downtown Branson and on Highway 76?
Now here’s a couple “Seagulestions” for the ages, “Precisely how much has the building of the Highroad done for lowering the amount of traffic on Highway 76 or downtown Branson? Why would any business person, theatre, shop or restaurant owner on Highway 76, with a half of an ounce of brains, want less traffic on Highway 76 in the mid 1990s or now?
Maybe someone from the city, even though they were not the ones who put the city in its current situation, could explain why the article appears to be reporting that the city has an obligation to cover the shortfall on the bond payments and how we got from having no responsibility to pay anything on the TIF bonds to this point? On the other hand, at the end of the day it isn’t going to make a lot of difference, like the Highroad before it, those who have the power and influence will continue to do what they want when they want and the rest of us should just keep our mouths shut and be thankful. “Yup, the more things change the more they stay the same.”