NEW PAVING: Argenta News photo of new road in RV park.
As sure as day follows night, expect the Democrat-Gazette's Jake Sandlin to write a tout for one of NLR Mayor Pat Hay's projects not long after Scott Miller at Argenta News has raised a question or two. Argenta News has been closely monitoring the city's expenses on the riverfront RV park. It doesn't oppose the idea, and concedes it might have some benefit. Miller has just called, repeatedly, for realistic accounting. It's hard to find in the D-G.
Today's D-G gave front page coverage to the "Hog wild" success of the mayor's trailer park, but if you read closely, you do have to wonder about NLR arithmetic. Said city commerce director, Joe Smith:
“My goal from the get-go was if it could just pay the bills, pay the [bond] note and pay the managers and if the economic impact would be a success, I’d be happy,” Smith said. “I think we’ve done that and then some.”
Well, let's see. The park has brought in $69,000 in revenue since it opened last year. The Council put in $200,000 last year to build it. It has spent $5,700 in miscellaneous expenses. It has no estimate yet on utilities -- electricity, sewer and water. It spent $29,000 on paving. It's planning to build a pavilion with a $30,000 contribution from Riverfest. They spent $65,000 on a fence. They have spent money on portable buildings, amount not given. The manager is paid $27,500. The city pays $40,000 a year on startup debt. Does it sound like the income is paying the bills?
There is the economic benefit of visitors, of course. The city figures the 2,600 daily rentals this year have brought 5,000 visitors to town and they estimate they've spent $600,000 or more than $225 per RV couple per day. But that's based on a formula, according to the story, that anticipates visitors are spending money on hotel rooms.