Eight unanswerable questions about Amendment 1
July 20, 2004
1. For the two principal highways (U.S. 160 and Missouri 176), who pays for highway improvements? Where is that money to come from?
2. The Rockaway Beach sewage treatment plant is currently licensed at a level equivalent to a town of 6,000 persons. If the casino’s ads are to be believed, Rockaway Beach will experience many days at 10,000 or more visitors. Who is paying for the increased wastewater treatment capacity?
3. At 3,000,000 visitors per year, peak days in Rockaway Beach will require at least 60 acres of parking spaces (150 cars per acre, and three persons to a car on 10,000 visitor count days). Does 60 acres of parking exist in Rockaway Beach? The only flat ground (about five acres) in town has been bought by the casino corporation.
4. If the casino is built, it is widely acknowledged throughout the state that new casinos will follow at several other locations in Missouri, with one sure to follow in Branson. What happens to Rockaway Beach and the municipal improvement costs guaranteed by the citizens of Rockaway Beach when a casino in Branson or Hollister opens? Who pays the bonds that have been incurred by Rockaway Beach citizens? Do you care?
5. Taney County, in all the talk of tax dollar increases, receives very little added money from the casinos. However, Taney County is expected to provide many new services. For example, Taney County Sheriff Jimmy Russell estimates that his department will receive enough new money for one added patrol car and one-half of a deputy. History of gambling venues teaches that there is a normal need to grow police/sheriff capacities by 50 to 100 percent. Who pays for that? Taney County residents and taxpayers?
6. At 3,000,000 visitors to Rockaway Beach losing $40 per visit (the state average gambling loss is over $54 per visit), a Rockaway Beach casino will take $120,000,000 out of the taxable spending in Ozark Mountain Country (there is no sales tax collected, no transportation or conservation tax collected on gambling losses). The tax collections that are lost are the basic building blocks for services provided by government. How will local cities, the county, or state government make up that tax loss? Will there be higher local taxes in Taney County or local cities?
7. Why do we almost never hear the words “gambling” or “casino” in the advertising for the Rockaway Beach casino? Are casino proponents trying to hide the truth from voters?
8. The impact of the tax dollars promised for Missouri’s schools would go only to 16 school districts out of 524 districts statewide. Two of those districts already receive some of the largest state tax dollar (per student) payments from the state education budget. Those revenues are nice for the 16 districts, but what about the rest of the schoolchildren?
Source: Peter Herschend, vice chairman, Herschend Family Entertainment, and spokesman, Show Me You Care campaign.