A good agreement
Sunday, December 21, 2003
Many of the details of the numerous private discussions between Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson and businessman Jim Drury that led to last week's cooperative agreement will never be made public.
But there are some key components of those conversations that both the mayor and Drury are eager to share, and the biggest one is trust.
Knudtson readily acknowledges that the points on which he and Drury found common ground -- and which are represented in the agreement that was announced Wednesday -- needed to be made.
And Drury says his estimation of current city leaders -- the mayor and city manager Doug Leslie included -- is based on a high level of trust.
Drury has long maintained that the motel-restaurant sales taxes approved by voters for the River Campus project left too many questions hanging in the air.
One issue had to do with how much revenue these taxes would raise. It appeared that far more revenue would be generated than was needed to pay off the city's portion of the River Campus financing.
Another issue was how much of the revenue from the motel-restaurant sales taxes would go to the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Answers to both of the those issues are spelled out in last week's agreement.
The motel-restaurant sales taxes will cease when enough money has been raised to pay the city's share of the River Campus.
If there are other city needs at that time, it will be up to the city to make its case for renewing or extending the motel-restaurant sales taxes. And voters would have the final say.
The agreement also caps revenue from the motel-restaurant sales taxes that will be going to the CVB for as long as the taxes are collected. Once the city's portion of River Campus funding is raised, there will be no more motel-restaurant sales taxes -- and no revenue from the taxes for the CVB -- unless voters give their approval.
The mayor believes the CVB will be able to demonstrate the value of its efforts to increase tourism and to bring more conventions to the city. For Drury's part, that value needs to be demonstrated. And last week's agreement includes performance standards for the CVB based on increases in revenue from the motel-sales taxes.
Other parts of the agreement spell out the particulars of some other areas that were fuzzy in the minds of both Knudtson and Drury. The agreement approved by the city council dispels those concerns and provides for more accountability than existed before the mayor and Drury hammered out their differences.
Everything in the agreement is beneficial to the city and its taxpayers. Moreover, the agreement sets the stage for future areas of cooperation that will benefit the city's potential and growth.
The mayor and Drury both say this is a win-win agreement. It certainly appears to be. And the beneficiaries are Cape Girardeau's residents who want their tax dollars used wisely for the future of the city.