voted to investigate purchase and restoration of the Dodge Theater from Mike Burkhart with the possibility of using it as a "home away from home" for the famous western singing group "Riders in the Sky". They also voted to pursue a contract up to $80K to bring Dr. Michael Husband here and develop a master tourism plan. These two gestures were, at the time, felt to be a step in the right direction for Dodge City tourism and for downtown revitalization - two subjects which have classically received only lip service from the CFAB and commissions for many years.
A few months later, the CFAB recommended to the joint commissions that Global Entertainment (International Colliseums) be awarded the contract for the Special Event Center. The Commissions approved the recommendation and voted to award the contract. Shortly thereafter, the Ford County Commission put forward a ballot initiative for a 1/2 percent
sales tax increase to pay for a new county jail. This, they intended to follow with a second ballot initiative to repeal the 1/2 percent sales tax voted in back in 1997 to finance the county's share of the "Why Not Dodge" projects including the special events center. Local retired attorney Jack Dalton has, to date, filed an injunction halting that question temporarily.
Then Boot Hill Gaming, Inc. stopped all the presses as they guided a bill through the Kansas Legislature which would allow casino gambling in Dodge City upon approval of the voters of Dodge City and Ford county. A local election followed on June 26, 2007 on that question with the result that the electorate approved a single lottery gaming facility for Ford County and Dodge City.
Boot Hill Gaming, in their election campaign, claimed the casino would:
- Increase Tourism
- Lower Property Taxes
- Compliment Existing Local Businesses
- Bring 670 new full-time (FTE) jobs to the area
- Bring $18 million in annual pay and benefits to the area
- Bring $3.25 million in annual revenue for local county and municipal projects
The slogan on their poster said "Preserving Our Past, Building the Future".
As of this writing, the special events center which we were in such a hurry to vote on is now on hold as are the promises of the CFAB concerning the Dodge Theater and the master tourism plan. Additionally, the city attorney informs us that there will be no organizational funding for tourism non-profits this year as there always has been in the past.
It appears that the gambling initiative has already had huge impact on the community by bringing everything to a grinding halt. What we will now attempt to do with this blog is to track the promises made by the CFAB, the City and County Commissions, and Boot Hill Gaming, Inc.
These people have made some pretty broad and sweeping promises to the community and it behooves someone to provide oversight.
Come back at any time to check on how things are progressing....
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