Admissions Tax Defeated, Proposal Does Not Even Receive a Vote

by lewwaters

In a move that seemed to surprise many this afternoon, Clark County Commissioner Marc Boldt sided with Commissioner Tom Mielke in not supporting slapping a 5% admissions tax on county entertainment venues to pay a significant portion of a proposed new stadium.

Boldt had previously indicated support for this project and the tax, but today stated he simply could not support it due to concerns of whether or not the Vancouver City Council would also sign on to it.

In a lengthy public hearing this morning and into the afternoon, citizens were pretty evenly divided over support and opposition, much support coming from members of Identity Clark County, The Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, the Columbia River Economic Development Council and the Downtown Vancouver Association as well as a few private citizens. Nearly all opposition was expressed by private citizens who would be left on the hook for this stadium, should it turn into a white elephant as did the Amphitheater, the Hilton and a golf course in North County.

Seeing Identity Clark County and many others with high hopes of reaping personal side benefits from construction of a stadium with taxpayers taking the risks is not unexpected. We see much of that with Identity Clark County and their “vision” for our community, often leaving us, the struggling middle class out of the loop, but holding the bag.

Amongst the most laughable commenters in favor was Clark College President, Robert Knight, who spoke about those of us who oppose it not knowing what “sacrifice” really is. I beg to differ with Knight, a retired US Army Officer as I was enlisted during my time in the Army, to include 18 months boots on the ground in Vietnam.

Knight also took issue with the many comparisons between this proposal and the 3-year old and financially plagued Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee, Washington, now seeking in excess of $40 Million in a taxpayer bailout to meet their bond interest payments.

That project too had high hopes for profit and benefit to the community and came up flat. Knight’s claim of any comparison being “apples & oranges” is not accurate. While it is true that the population of Wenatchee is far smaller than ours, barely over 30,000, the Public Facilities District created to oversee such projects there consists of Chelan and Douglas Counties, the Cities of Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Chelan, Cashmere, Entiat, and Rock Island, and the Town of Waterville.

That is 2 counties and 7 cities. Far more than just the mere 30,000 claimed by Knight.

If all of the stiff neck commenters from Identity Clark County and other special interest groups from the equation, I do believe you would see the opposition from private citizens ran two to one against this tax.

Many are upset with Commissioner Boldt over his withdrawing the support most of us previously felt he would have for this. He is called a coward and you name it by the special interests who so desperately wanted to move this deal forward with taxpayers taking the risks.

Boldt, a Republican who has been falling out of favor with Republicans over his frequent support of and siding with Democrats, taking positions contrary to the Republican Party Platform and against the conservative roots he showed years ago that got him elected, took the courageous stand of opposing the powerful special interests in Clark County and supporting us, the struggling middle class.

It was leaked last week that he was taken to task by the Executive Board of the Clark County GOP for his frequent actions against the party platform and basically told he was being rejected. By a vote of 11 to 5, he was put on notice that he would not receive the GOP’s support or be given access to party mailing lists and literature in his upcoming reelection campaign so long as he supported Democrats and their positions over Republicans.

It is unknown if that played any role in his stand this afternoon or if having received word from 5 Vancouver City Council Members that they would reject it changed his mind, but it was a welcome sight to me for him to once again take a strong stand in support of taxpayers over special interests. Since each city council in Clark County would have had to sign on too, it would have been foolhardy to pass it knowing it would not make it through the council of the largest city in the county.

But, I hope to see Marc Boldt continuing to take more conservative positions and he can once again be the conservative we all first elected. That’s entirely up to him and his conscience.

The Yakima Bears team owners have indicated in the past that should they not get to place the risks for this potential white elephant on taxpayer’s backs, they would resort to Plan B that does not involve Vancouver or Clark County.

Fine and dandy. Let some other community screw their taxpayers over. Oregon is a great choice as they have a long history of slapping taxpayers.

I’d rather grow out of this recession with private sector jobs not dependent on questionable taxes.

See also: Boldt balks: Baseball proposal dies at county’s hands in the Columbian.

17 Comments to “Admissions Tax Defeated, Proposal Does Not Even Receive a Vote”

  1. Maybe Marc suffered from a desire to get along with Democrats. The problem being, the only way to “get along” with Democrats is to do exactly what they want (all in the name of “compromise” of course). The failure of a Republican to “compromise” opens him or her to bitter and vindictive attack by Democrats and their dogs.

    Maybe Marc needed a good wake-up call to remind him of that. If so, hopefully he is now fully awake.

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  2. Personally, I would have been glad to purchase a pair of season tickets for the wife and I and we would have gladly attended every home game we could, and found someone to fill the seats when we could not. I’m a baseball fan and proud of it and I still support finding some reasonable way to get that stadium built and a baseball team in Vancouver.

    But I do not blame Mark Boldt for distrusting Vancouver City Council. Without any obvious support on this he did the smart thing and pulled the plug.

    But even a blind squirrel finds the occasional nut, and Mark will still bear close watching…

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  3. Well done Lew! A heartfelt but cautious thanks to Marc Boldt. He is in a position to do even more good for the taxpayers of Clark County. I hope we can begin to count on him again. Bravo to CCRP too!

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  4. I have no intentions of taking my eyes off of Marc or any of the others.

    I thank Marc for a courageous stand on our behalf, but this little more than cautiously hoping for a beginning back on his behalf.

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  5. Sorry Lew, but we diverge on calling this a “courageous” move on Mark Boldt’s behalf. I think this was motivated more by fear of what his constituents would say and do if he didn’t disapprove of it. It often amazes me at what people find “courageous”.In my view a courageous move would be to continue to try and find a way to do this instead of killing the whole idea outright.

    Not to let anyone off the hook here, but what I find ironic is that Boldt is catching all the heat on this while Stuart and Mielke sit back and watch the show. I don’t hear anyone calling Steve Stuart courageous for supporting baseball, or Mielke courageous for making up his mind months ago and stubbornly refusing to consider any other position. All three deserve equal scrutiny over this but that has hardly been the case.

    I’d have been very interested to see the results of an advisory vote on this. I wonder what the result would be if the County voters were asked how much they support baseball and are willing to pay for it. (Yes, I know how much it costs to put a measure on the ballot, but that’s what the ballot is for.)

    Its very easy to draw trends and make decisions based on what Facebook members say but that does not mean you get meaningful results; the City of Vancouver just did it with their tobacco ban in the parks. 3 people on Facebook told the City it was a good idea, so City Council went ahead and banned tobacco products in the Parks. The City will pay attention to Facebook comments long before they will consider actual people’s opinions about anything. Go look at the minimal reporting that was done on the park ordinance and the many uninformed comments that have been made about it. People think the tobacco ban was the only thing in that Ordinance based solely on what little the Columbian reported online about it, but their opinion counts more than anyone because they and the Columbian are part of Facebook Nation, and if you aren’t a part of Facebook then you are just out of luck.

    That’s a far cry from finding out what people actually think about any issue, and things are no different with baseball.

    Local Gubment frequently picks and chooses which social media to use and which to ignore completely in order to try and justify the things they do, but they rarely come and ask actual voters and taxpayers what they really think. I don’t know that we had a majority for or against baseball in the County because nobody has asked the question in a way that really matters: at the ballot box.

    Avoiding the voters is a competition sport here in Washington these days and the Yakima Bears have been the latest inning of that ongoing game.

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  6. Written Lew. I was about to write my own along the same lines. But you covered it so well.

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  7. I meant my last post to say well written Lew. 🙂

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  8. Marc like all of us occasionally wants to see our future through hopeful blue skied eyes and therefore I think prefers the option of happy and warm options on his votes. The fact that long term and political tug of wars are the true realities can escape him but I am sure not forever. Our city council could really use a dose of reality in the spend and tax category. I thank him for protecting the tax payers from an expense based for entertainment when we are in the process of cutting necessities all over the place. Blue skies will revisit us if we all show some patience with our wants and work to meet our needs today.

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  9. What an incredibly great blog post, Lew! I had not heard about the Clark GOP Board’s vote 11 to 5 to put Mr. Boldt on notice for his 2012 re-election bid. Nice scoop on the local paper!

    I attended one of the last Beaver baseball games before they left the Portland market and estimate that about 75% of the seats were empty. And, it was a nice, warm summer day. Contrast that to the Timbers’ final home soccer game of the season that I attended on Oct. 14th and EVERY seat was filled – in the rain! Portland loves soccer, but baseball… not so much.

    It’s past time for all government agencies, including city, county, state and federal to prioritize tax dollars on necessary services. Get out of the golf course, amphitheater, health club and hotel business. It’s not your charge!

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  10. I want to add that Scott Thompson over at Couv.com did a really nice job of an article. http://couv.com/issues/stadium-deal-dead . Lew you did a nice job and your blogging efforts ARE appreciated.

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  11. Liz Pike, I’ll hand you the same challenge I gave Lew and the Professor…since you disapprove so strongly of the plan as presented to build a Public stadium and bring in a baseball team, is there any plan you would support under any conditions??

    I’ve repeatedly stated that I’m not only willing to pay the entertainment tax, but will gladly go on the hook in advance for a pair of season tickets and will ensure both of those seats are always filled, my wife and I will buy a $100 brick for the entrance way (if it was offered) and participate any other way we can to bring baseball to Vancouver. That’s how I propose to pay for it and I would like to hear what you would do.

    There are thousands of sporting facilities across the Country that support all kinds of minor league sports teams that are not only very popular but very successful as well. When I was in the Navy I owned a house in Newport News, Virginia for a time and was a regular at the Tidewater Tides games. They had a very nice Public stadium that was sized properly for the community, used a very carefully designed plan for the facility and installed decent concessions stands that served some pretty decent food. At the time, a couple of us would hit a night game and drop $50 a piece on food and drinks in addition to the tickets. Yes, the Public had to sponsor the mortgage for that stadium but it was structured to take full advantage of the facility itself for more than just home baseball games.

    This can be done here in Vancouver, and I would much rather pay a small entertainment tax to pay for a baseball facility that will be used, rather than pay the entertainment tax to the City of Vancouver so Bart Hansen can approve spending it down at the Waterfront Project instead. I’d sure as hell rather spend my money here in Clark County rather than continuing to underwrite Portland’s.

    I hear a lot of wailing over this horrible tax increase, and I question how much money it would actually cost the ones who are wailing the loudest. This is very much like all the wailing that went on about the Port of Vancouver’s proposed IDD Levy that was supposed to be such an onerous increase, but would have added $1.75 to the average homeowner’s ANNUAL Port property taxes.

    Would an annual cap on how much entertainment tax you actually paid make any difference Liz?? Probably not.

    I suspect most of the loudest complaining that is going on about this baseball tax has come from those people, (and there are plenty of you out there) who would never approve of any deal, under any circumstances on anything whatsoever. As much as we love to make fun of John Laird for his scoriating editorials, he is not always wrong and is dead on the mark with some of his descriptions of locals who will approve of nothing. While you are certainly entitled to your own views, you are not entitled to dominate every public conversation just by stubbornly plugging your ears and shouting “NO!” at the top of your lungs.

    Figuratively speaking of course, unless you are a regular subscriber to Larry Patella’s personal opinions….

    Liz, I’ll look forward to hearing your ideas on what you think a proper way to pay for a baseball stadium are. Use the same real numbers the recently killed deal used, and go from there.

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  12. Bob, have you not figured out yet that the opposition was against yet another tax increase and not baseball?

    Why should the public have to risk a dime over the stadium? If it is expected to be so financially beneficial, why aren’t private investors, like yourself, willing to pony up and fund it?

    Why is the risk placed on taxpayers who are already facing a slew of tax increases and new taxes? Some people are struggling, Bob. There is no light at the end of the tunnel for them and if they could not afford to pay the extra tax, they don’t go the movies, the theater faces going out of business, more people on unemployment, struggling to get by. It just never ends.

    All of the studies in the world do not give any guarantee that the stadium will be profitable. Didn’t we hear much the same with the Hilton and Amphitheater? Where are they now?

    The same studies said the Arena in Wenatchee was going to do well and bring in a lot of money for the community there. Instead, after 3 years, they are seeking a $42 Million bailout from our tax dollars and during a time many around the state are laying off Police and Firefighters.

    But by all means, build a stadium, charge appropriate admission, I’m sure you would have no problem paying a couple more dollars to see a game, just leave taxpayers out of it.

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  13. Bob, for me it all comes down to this. Should it not be the ones baring the fruits of a special privilege that this stadium provide actually pay for the cost of the M & O plus the cost to build?

    Honestly, I do believe this is not infrastructure as Steve Stuart likes to put it. Its just another jingle bell for a minority of our citizens. If they so believe that it is some thing they want, why do they not pay out of their own pockets for all of it?

    I believe that is the point most of the opponents were trying to make Tuesday morning and afternoon. The same one you, I and Lew have been making on the Hilton and many other options that we have here in Vancouver.

    But the vote from Commissioner Boldt came down to, was he going to have to take a fall for this project, if later the City Councilmembers of which he said were five and four of them were confirmed by the Columbian as such, would have voted the stadium proposal down if it had come before them.

    So do you think he wanted to be made a fool of? This project was dead because of the lack of political will and against an ICC idea. Probably the FIRST time I can remember since I moved here in 1987.

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  14. Again, and again, and again…there is no reason why an acceptable Public-Private partnership could not have been worked out in order to give those who actually would have attended the games to pay most of the freight for this project.

    I will remind you this was to be a Public facility, therefore it is completely appropriate to propose a way for the Public to help finance a facility like this one.

    Like I said, and I stand by my words. Some of you folks would never approve of this no matter how it was structured, and it is not fair that those people get to completely obstruct it completely when there are plenty of people who would support it with their attendance and their cash.

    All I hear is what you people disapprove of and very little of what you do approve of.

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  15. Bob, in this economy, we do not need more taxes on the middle class.

    The proposal failed. 5 city council members said they would not support it, which would have killed it. Leavitt was out of line by signing the letter without consulting the rest of the council and, the whole proposal was poorly laid out and presented.

    Just as many of us have been told when an election doesn’t turn out how we would like, it’s done. It’s over. Time to get over it.

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