The Anaheim City Council is up to their old tricks again – this time they want to hand a $1.5 million dollar tax giveaway to the powerful and wealthy Disney company.
Community leaders are fed up with both the City Council and Disney. A protest is set for July 7, 2015, at 5 p.m., at Anaheim’s City Hall, located at 200 South Anaheim Blvd., where a public hearing on this matter will be held.
Come to the meeting and let the politicians know you oppose this massive giveaway to Disney! Click here to RSVP.
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait is leading the charge against the move to give away millions to Disney. Here is an editorial he wrote on the subject that was published this weekend by the O.C. Register:
The Anaheim City Council on Tuesday will consider a proposal that would require the city to refund any future gate tax levied on Disneyland back to the company in exchange for Disney’s promise of a $1.5 billion investment in its parks. I will be voting no on this proposal.
Some will have you believe that a “no” vote is a vote against Disney or a vote in favor of higher taxes. In fact, as a vocal advocate of small government and freedom, if the issue were that simple, I would be the first in line to support the company’s proposal. But it is not.
There are several key reasons why this proposal is not in the best interest of the taxpayers.
First, Disney is asking the city to enter into a contract that would refund ticket tax levies until 2060. This means that kids entering kindergarten this fall would be 50 years old before the city and taxpayers would be able to consider any potential tax.
It is not that I think we need this tax today. However, it is a mistake to tie the hands of future voters and taxpayers. We have no crystal ball. What we do know is that the city has several major financial pressures looming, including $560 million in unfunded pension liabilities and $160 million in unfunded medical retirement obligations. The council majority, against my wishes, voted to borrow $200 million to expand the Convention Center. We cannot anticipate the needs of our city in 10, 20 or 30 years. And who are we to decide what people who aren’t even born yet will want to do with their votes and taxpayer money?
Another reason to oppose this proposal is because it offers one business a special deal that no other business – or individual taxpayer – would ever receive. As a friend stated in an email to me: “I hate taxes … but what I hate more is not treating folks equally.”
Kaiser Permanente recently invested more than $670 million in a new medical center in Anaheim without any kind of special promise from the taxpayers. That was because it made good business sense for Kaiser to update and expand its presence in our city. A Fortune 100 company, Disney enjoys record earnings – most recently reporting annual revenue of more than $48 billion. If it will benefit shareholders for Disney to expand the park, add new rides and new hotel beds, the company will make that investment.
Certainly, $1.5 billion sounds like a major investment, but we’re not talking about a $1.5 billion gift to Anaheim. We’re talking about a capital investment in their own business. Disney’s obligation is to its shareholders. My obligation, as mayor, is to advocate policies that protect and benefit the residents of Anaheim.
Disney is a valued and unique member of our community. The resort generates jobs, tourists and related businesses. The day that Walt Disney selected his 160-acre plot of land in Anaheim to build his vision of a magical park for children and families was a landmark day in our city’s history. I work closely with, and value the relationship the city has, with Disney leaders.
But I cannot, in good conscience, support the request they are making of our city. I cannot limit the options for generations of residents.
Sixty years ago, Walt financed his dream by selling his vacation home, taking a loan out against his life insurance policy and creating a unique partnership with ABC Television. He did not ask for special government refunds. I believe that Disney can, and will, continue to invest in its parks without requiring a deal that ties the hands of generations of Anaheim taxpayers.
I invite residents to join us at City Hall on Tuesday at 5 p.m. to express their views on this issue.
Given the importance and long-term impact of this decision on the future of your city government, your voices should be heard.
Tom Tait is mayor of Anaheim.