Letter: Stateline events center a gamble for Douglas County tax payers (opinion)
I was present at the project consultants’ presentation to the Douglas Board of County Commissioners’ July 19 meeting regarding the proposed Lake event center. We learned that the estimated cost had increased from the commonly mentioned $50 million to $80 million [“Events center price tag $80 million”, 7/21 Record Courier].
Douglas County property tax payers, who are totally funding this project for the benefit of the lake casinos, should be concerned that the consultants, under questioning by the commissioners, specified that only a fraction of their blue sky revenue estimates would come back to Douglas County’s tax coffers. Most of the revenues would supposedly benefit the general economy, but no one was offering to guarantee benefits to either the taxpayers or the community.
That’s important, because in order to fund the event center, the BOCC created a redevelopment area on questionable legal grounds that will divert money from Douglas County’s schools, fire departments, infrastructure projects, and other essential county services.
We were told that because corporations plan their major offsite events well in advance, it would probably take the event center a few years to pick up that business and hit its full revenue potential. In my remarks to the BOCC I pointed out that the new federal tax law does away with deductions for entertainment, making some of that predicted surge dicey at best.
Research shows that the Reno event center, slightly larger than our proposed event center, hasn’t paid off as planned. These small venues will at best attract tribute bands and certain kinds of sporting events.
Douglas County taxpayers are taking all the risk, but will have no equity or say-so in its operation. The lake casinos will win big if the event center succeeds and will lose nothing if it flops.