Posted Thursday, February 11, 2010 2:44 AM | Contributed by Jeff
To deal with the safety services shortfall, several Sandusky residents and city employees proposed raising the admissions tax and using new grant money to rehire recently laid-off police and firefighters. One official said the city will need the extra safety services once Cedar Point opens.
Read more from The Sandusky Register.
Here we go again...
Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."
The city shouldn't be asking itself if raising the admissions tax is a smart move. Whether that's warranted can be debated over and over. What they really should ask themselves is whether relying on any single entity for 25% of your revenue is a good idea.
Sure, but it's a company town. What else is there?
They need to do what every other town that lacks a mega-employer/tax source does. Not that it's easy to determine what exactly that is, especially in a town like Sandusky where the leadership lacks any kind of vision.
But Walt, the mega-employer also generates a disproportionate load on local services. So, cities without such a mega-employer don't have the same challenges that Sandusky does---especially when that mega-employer pays below-subsistent wages to most of its employees. Put another way: if Cedar Point didn't exist, you could probably get rid of 2/3ds of what the city does.
For some really good insight into this problem, I recommend reading Married to the Mouse---there's a nice discussion describing the true costs that tourism places on local government and infrastructure.
Is 25% of the city's budget related to Cedar Point? If I had to make an uneducated wild guess, I'd say no, but I really don't know. There are some areas (not necessarily most, though) where the bigger impact is on Perkins Twp.
I've heard great things about that book. I will definitely have to check it outLast edited by Gemini, Thursday, February 11, 2010 11:35 AM
I bet it absolutely doesn't burn 25% of its resources relating to Cedar Point. I've spent a lot of time around city budgets. Furthermore, I'd be willing to be another significant portion of their tax revenue comes from the business around town that also would not exist if it weren't for the park.
There's a big difference between Disney World and Cedar Point though. The concept of underlying cost is the same, but the amount of said cost is vastly different. With Disney, you are looking at 50,000 year round employees, most of whom are low wage. You are looking at 30 million visitors to their parks who use their roads and airports. With Cedar Point, you are looking at maybe 5,000 jobs and 3 million guests for 4 months out of the year. Disney has all kinds of exemptions and special charters that cloud a lot of issues with the city and counties they reside in. Many of those Disney low wage cast members rely on their pay to make a living, and reside in a city with a huge cost of living, putting additional pressure on public assistance programs 12 months out of the year. Cedar Point employees are mostly college, high school, or exchange students working for the summer. Most adults that work there for the summer probably do so for a temporary boost in income and don't rely on CP for year round work.
While it's true that Cedar Point does employ a few thousand lower wage workers, they do so 4 months out of the year. They also provide their own low cost housing to many of the employees. Also, think about how many operating tax paying businesses there are in Sandusky that are either directly or indirectly related to Cedar Point. Hotels, restaurants, stores, indoor waterparks, etc. Most of those businesses (and the jobs) would not have been opened and would not exist if it were not for the 3 million people that visit Cedar Point and Sandusky every year. While I do agree that Cedar Point should pay it's fair share of taxes and help to service the roads leading to their property, I do not think that they should be leaned on for more money when Sandusky has problems with it's budget because the local economy isn't diversified. Granted the increase isn't that much, and CP even agreed to it if the people do. I don't oppose a small increase where necessary, but the extra tax is a symptom of the larger problem.
The problem isn't really Cedar Point. CP is a successful multimillion dollar company that brings millions of dollars of business to the area and pays millions in taxes. The problem is Sandusky's leadership and it's addiction to tourism. A city in northern Ohio with 4 warm months out of the year should not be relying on tourism to carry it's town's financial burden, and that's exactly what they have been doing for a long time. Yes the economy is down, yes Sandusky has probably lost a ton of factory jobs over the years, but you have to adjust eventually. It makes you wonder what the town would be like if Cedar Point wasn't there to pay 25 percent of the revenue. Yes the costs would be down, but Cedar Point is not responsible for 66 percent of the cost in fire/police/road crew/public assistance. They probably use much less than what they pay for. The hidden cost of Cedar Point the company doesn't compare to the money it brings in either directly through it's gates, or indirectly through the other businesses that hang their hat on Cedar Point's existence. Tourism is a good thing for a city to have, but most towns will never be able to pay the bills and provide good service if that's all they have.Last edited by D the Great, Thursday, February 11, 2010 12:04 PM
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