Monday, December 03, 2007

Expand Cobo with your tax dollars

The Free Press, given that it seems there's never a way to increase taxes that it can't get behind, is pushing for the expansion of Cobo Hall, to be paid of course with the taxes of at least the tri-county (Detroit and the 3 main counties) area.

The ostensible reason is that the Detroit Auto Show exhibitors want a larger exhibit hall, and for some reason the taxpayers should shoulder the burden for this yearly event.

In Grow Cobo now!, the Freep editortial calls for an extension of the already existing special liquor and hotel tax that is already being used to finance the previous Cobo Hall renovation.
Unfortunately, that must happen in Lansing, where nothing comes easily these days. Special taxes on Detroit-area hotel rooms and by-the-drink liquor, scheduled to expire in 2015, must be extended as a key component of funding the Cobo project.

Read that again, the tax on the original expansion in 1985 still hasn't fully paid off the prior expansion and will not do so until 2015 and they're talking about extending it for even more future renovations.

One reason it hasn't yet paid off the debt is that
The hotel-liquor taxes were enacted for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties in 1985 to pay off bonds that financed the initial expansion of Cobo, which opened in 1960. The room tax ranges from 1.5%-6% depending on the size and location of the hotel or motel. The drink tax, which most people don't even know they pay at bars and restaurants, is 4%. Any balance from the taxes after the debt service is paid is distributed on a per-capita basis to all Michigan counties, or at least it was until this year, when the Legislature raided the fund for $37 million to help balance the state budget.

Why wasn't the money every year paid out to more than just service the debt but to retire it -- or at least to bank it away for this latest expansion. Simply wasteful spending of tax dollars as usual.

I also really like the condescension of the Freep when it notes the 4% tax on alcohol in local bars isn't a big deal as
Travelers also would pay a part of the drink tax, and local drinkers cross county lines so regularly that the tax cannot be seen as an unfair burden on Wayne, Oakland or Macomb residents.
Saty that again? How many residents of these counties leave them to go to a bar, what proportion of regular bar patrons come from outside these counties? Not too darn many in either case.

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