As the summer doldrums descend on the city and send people in
search of cooler climates, things are getting hot and heavy downtown once again.
Some of the proprietors of the antiquated art galleries and struggling souvenir shops - who already benefit from hundreds of thousands of dollars from the city to market downtown -- are trying to muscle more money out of the city to subsidize their businesses.
These downtown business owners are demanding an additional $750,000 -- and they say they don't intend to take "no" for an answer.
And by the way ...these are same bellyachers who bullied the city into creating a new event ordinance that discourages downtown events. They're also the malcontents who rejected using $4 million for downtown enhancements, including street and sidewalk improvements to make the area more visitor-friendly. So with one hand they're choking off business and with the other they're insisting on handouts from the city to attract more business.
It seems like the city can never do enough for this group of grumblers who keep banker's hours and expect taxpayers to bankroll their businesses.
Last week Bob Pejman, the spokesperson for the rogue downtown retailers, wrote the city: "Experience Scottsdale has done a great job of bringing out-of-state visitors to Scottsdale's resorts using the full Destination Marketing Budget (50% of the Bed Tax Funds). There is, however, a glaring disconnect in bringing the affluent visitors from the resorts to visit Downtown's unique assets."
Of course none of the other so-called downtown "unique assets" are whining. Not the restaurants. Not the Museum of the West or the Center for the Performing Arts. And not the bar or club owners.
Pejman, a downtown gallery owner, continued by saying, "The recent declines in sales tax revenues from brick and mortar retail establishments due to the increase in on-line shopping is even more reason why a larger portion of our city's Bed Tax Funds should be allocated to the marketing of our downtown as a major tourist draw."
Formerly known as the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Experience Scottsdale annually receives half of the city's bed tax fund. Last year that was a little more than $9 million, which was 70% of the organization's 2016 budget. Paradise Valley, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community also pony up annually to Experience Scottsdale. Private sector businesses contribute as well.
Downtown merchants aspire to the axiom that the "squeaky wheel gets the grease." So far they've gotten the city's attention. But that's all.
As expected, Experience Scottsdale isn't keen on appropriating any of the organization's bed tax funds beyond what it already has to help market downtown. Assistant City Manager Brent Stockwell, under the direction of City Manager Jim Thompson, is attempting to come up with a reasonable response to the merchants without creating a slippery slope -- because if downtown businesses are allowed to force the city's hand, what's to prevent other groups from emerging with hat in hand. For instance, bar and club owners in the Entertainment District.
After all ... what's good for the goose should be good for the gander.