Thursday, December 21, 2006
This item tears me up. Understand that I am a rail fan. I love railroads and trains. I find them endlessly fascinating, whether studying their place in American history, or simply admiring massive machines moving massive tonnage.
But I am a Libertarian, and I do not for a second believe that because I enjoy railroads that society is on the hook to provide it for me. I can't stand Amtrak and its enormous subsidies. My impression of the Indiana transportation Museum just slipped a notch, for the same reason. From the Noblesville Ledger report:
The Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau will give $200,000 to the Indiana Transportation Museum (ITM) to help the volunteer-run train museum embark on a new journey.
"We are working with the Indiana Transportation Museum on a plan of action to make it a professional organization," said Brenda Myers, the visitors bureau's executive director. "It's pretty much all volunteers now, and we want to help them get to the point where they have a professional staff and ratchet up their volume of work."
It's ironic. I appreciate what ITM does, so I visit and I make a donation every year. This is how a museum is supposed to function. Alas, Hamilton County is reinventing Marion County and every other liberal city in every way, via taxes. You may recall my December 8 post that points to where the money is coming from, but we'll just use this handy sidebar from the Ledger:
The idea of "taxing other people" just isn't as clever as some on county councils think. We don't live in a vacuum. Hate to break it to you, but it's getting to where most cities or counties slap taxes on tourists, via taxes on hotel rooms or rental cars. We get nicked too, as soon as we hit the road.
The Indiana Transportation Museum isn't the only beneficiary of the Hamilton County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The bureau will announce the recipients of another $375,000 in grants this week, said Brenda Myers, executive director. That wouldn't have been possible, she said, without the county council's decision Dec. 6 to raise the innkeeper's tax on the county's 33 lodging properties from 3 to 5 percent.
The visitors bureau also plans to release another $85,000 in 2007 in marketing and sports grants.
It isn't necessary or proper. I love the trains. But if there isn't sufficient support from the paying customers, it isn't up to the County Council to create a Convention and Visitors Bureau, and then to prop up some local museums and destination points. It's up to those destinations to sufficiently attract enough paying customers and/or donors to supply themselves with enough operating capital.
The reputation of Hamilton County as a place of fiscal conservatism is completely unearned by the Republicans who hold the majority of office. This is just another unfortunate example.