It is past time for the other City Commissioners to join Margaret Romero and just say “NO” to “business as usual” in Key West.
Buried near the bottom of the upcoming City Commission Meeting on March 16, 2016, is the innocuous sounding agenda Item #14, which calls for a one year extension of the agreement between the City and the TDA (Tourist Development Association). If adopted this would extend the Fantasy Fest contract for another year, putting the taxpayers on the hook for another subsidy in the amount of approximately $225,000.
It is well past time for the organizers of Fantasy Fest to pay their own way or at a minimum cover the bulk of the City’s expenses. The very successful “Zombie Bike Ride” is self-funded, so is the “Red Party” at Fogerty’s, as well as, “Kelly’s Kinky Karnival” and a myriad of other events that bear their own costs. Why shouldn’t FF do the same?
Although on paper the TDA may be losing money on Fantasy Fest, their private sister company, Market Share, which runs the festival and shares the same personnel and office space, is most definitely making a hefty profit between management fees, marketing and sponsorships alone.
In terms of financial benefits to the City, the argument is made that the City collects massive amount of sales tax over FF however, the facts are that the sales tax collected by the City is only a fraction of one cent and there is no discernible increase in tax revenues from one month to the next that can be attributed to this singular event. How much is really collected in the City’s coffers from the packed busses from Miami and Homestead who arrive with their chairs and over flowing portable coolers already in hand? These crowds are not buying in our stores or eating in our restaurants so, who is benefiting? Other than the hoteliers who are gauging at a double or triple rate and requiring minimum stays.
The taxpayers of Key West should no longer have to supplement the profits of Market Share for an event that can now more than pay for itself. The fact that Market Share/TDA sold advertising, collected sponsorship fees for an event in 2016 that they had not yet contracted for is their problem and not the City’s to remedy at the taxpayer’s expense.