Photo by Frantzman

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.

Gregory Lloyd
Key West
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  1. Now this is what ticks me off. As one of the tourists that goes every year for FF we pay bed tax as do thousands. Is this not where TOURIST TAX money should be used ? This is exactly what it should be used for. Yes it puts a h— of a load on not just your KWPD but also all of the street cleaners and other services required because of this event. As to sales tax are you blind to how people book rooms for this event ? The rooms often are booked many months or even a year in advance. Most places require paid in full 30 days before this event. The tax has already been paid long before October. And the volume of business Key West sees for that 10 days surely generates plenty of tax. Your just not seeing it as paid in that 10 days because it already was paid. If your not smart enough to see that FF is what keeps many places alive then you are dam fools. It creates jobs and income for many workers.
    If you screw this event up you will do damage to the tourist trade like you never seen. Yes the contract should be in place a year in advance. Who is at fault for it not being ? Don’t forget why it got started and as a result of it many return after FF and seeing a party town. Use the tourist tax on tourist not housing. Yes the room rates are double and also near 100% occupied. So in reality you got double bed tax. We already paid for our 9 days of lodging and TAX. And we don’t mind paying the tax if used for the purpose of advertising and direct cost this event creates. Was that not the justification for creating it ? Or do you see it as just a means to help the poor people that live where they can’t afford.

    And as a FF attender for many years yes can see why you should be upset with the bus full of dirty trash making people. They are the ones creating that mess on the streets after the parade. Note that it is not trashed any other night of FF. Do you not already have laws about backpacks and coolers ? They are half drunk before they arrive and buy nothing. Find a way to outlaw them bringing coolers and force them to buy local drinks.

    In short if it is not broke then don’t fix it. Your just not seeing the total picture.

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