NTF Issue paper: douglascounty155.doc. 7-20.

BACKGROUND. Every year, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners evaluates recommendations from the Visitors Promotion Council to dispense Visitor Improvement Funds tourism and culture grants to local visitor attractions and facilities in the county that apply for these grants. This $2,257,869 in grant money derives from a local sales tax on hotel/motel bills. Unfortunately, some of these grants allocated to entities that are not prominent tourist attractions, facilities that waste taxpayer dollars, or entities that can depend solely on private/other tax funding. Below is a list of undeserving grant recipients for FY 2020-2021:

• Downtown Omaha Holiday Lights Festival = $21,700.
• Omaha Public Schools Foundation = $30,000 for disability renovations to Burke H.S. stadium.
• Millard South HS Wrestling Club = $46,500.
• Support Nebraska = $12,400 for spectators, fans, and free admission to events.
• Greater Omaha Sports Committee = $15,000 for a trophy award dinner.
• Airborne T&T Booster = $3,000 for tumbling & trampoline equipment.
• Cinco de Mayo Mexican-American Parade = $39,305.
• Estrellitas de Omaha youth mariachi musicians = $10,000.
• El Museo Latino = $50,000 for the museum.
• African Culture Connection = $7,500 for a tribal dance.
• Empowerment Network = $13,000 for assorted activities in Black Omaha.
• Great Plains Black History Museum = $10,000 for museum activities.
• Omaha Minority Community Development Fund = $30,000 to celebrate Native Omaha Week.
• Rodgers Youth Foundation = $35,000 for awards and an after-party.
• Together We Achieve Miracles = $10,000 for an Ernie Chambers History & Humanities Bldg.
• NE Chinese Association = $10,000 for 1 cultural event.
• Film Streams Inc. movies = $29,140.
• Omaha Film Festival = $19,840.
• Gallery 1516 art gallery = $37,200.
• Omaha CVB Troll’s Walking Stick = $68,200.
• South Omaha Neighborhood Association African-American and Indian mural development = $20,000.
• Friends of Omaha Farmers Market =$13,640.

Most of these venues do not attract large numbers of out of town or resident visitors. Some have nothing to do with tourism or city visitors. These grants only provide a reward for pushing out a begging bowl to rake in taxpayer dollars. Otherwise, many of these venues financially would fail or shrink in activity. If such entities cannot raise money privately, then they should fold, not depend on a government subsidy that gives them unfair competitive advantage. Not funding these extraneous activities would allow the county to lower the hotel/motel tax.

TAKE ACTION NOW. Lobby your Douglas County Commissioner to stop funding undeserving activities and facilities. Ask them to lower the 4% hotel tax to save money for county guests and residents. Tell them to lobby the state legislature, so that county commissioners can use these funds to help lower the county property tax. Email netaxpayers@gmail.com for commissioner contact information and to join the NTF County Watch Project.

Research, documentation, and analysis for this issue paper done by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom. This material copyrighted by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, with express prior permission granted for its use by other groups in the NE Conservative Coalition Network. 7-20. C

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