Thursday, April 20, 2006
Who will pay my rent?
I went to a city council meeting the other day. It was pretty uneventful except for one little tidbit. Apparently, some time last year, the hotel tax was raised in Racine (Racine County?). Most of this money goes to the Racine County Visitor and Convention Bureau. They use the money to try to bring visitors to the area. Some money remained, and the Racine Arts Council requested and received $17,000, which will be used to pay their entire rent, at $1,000 per month,(they are paying too much, unless rent has doubled recently on 6th St.) as well as their utilities, roughly $400 per month. There was some discussion as to whether the appropriation was legal, and the city lawyer assured them that it was. The justification for the grant was twofold. One, they were the only ones who wanted the money, and two, they bring in tours to the downtown area. I don't have an axe to grind with the Racine Arts Council. I am glad that they are promoting the arts downtown and elsewhere. But I am concerned about the action taken by the city council. They appeared eager to spend the money, because they could. They could have sat on the money until a more equitable redistribution plan was conceived, as I am sure there are other organizations who might also want the cash. Or, maybe they could have lowered the room tax, as they seemed to have more money than was really needed. That might also encourage tourism.