Sep 28 2017

Lucy Dunn: Missing facts to ‘Is Disney paying its share in Anaheim?’

The LA Times report, Is Disney paying its share in Anaheim?, by its header, select information, and lack of context, leads a reader by the nose to a wrong conclusion.  The correct answer, however, is a resounding “yes.”  Missing from the story are some undisputed facts:

Fact. Disneyland is Anaheim’s largest taxpayer, by far. Disney paid over $125 million in taxes to Anaheim and its schools last year, and this number continues to grow every year.

Fact. Disneyland is not only Anaheim’s but Orange County’s largest employer, and California’s largest single site employer, with nearly 30,000 direct jobs. Disney’s activity has led to tens of thousands of new jobs in the region’s vibrant tourist economy.

Fact. In the early 1990s, Anaheim suffered blight and congestion. But in 1996, the City of Anaheim, under the bold leadership of its council and Mayor Tom Daly, now Assemblyman, worked with Disney through a public-private partnership to create the Anaheim Resort. Each element of that partnership went through tough negotiations, which residents and visitors now judge a success. The agreement transformed Anaheim into a place of pride.  Furthermore, the resort district benefits a wide range of businesses in Anaheim, all contributing to a robust Orange County economy.  And driven by Disneyland, the resort district brings a net surplus of $81 million per year, and growing, to Anaheim’s budget.

Fact. Most out-of-towners who visit the Anaheim Resort and Disneyland stay in hotels. Hotel taxes collected in Anaheim have tripled. And hotel taxes are 100% allocated to a city’s general fund, unlike property taxes and sales taxes, which are apportioned among the state, schools, city and county government. Prior Anaheim leaders wisely pushed to maximize the benefit from the Anaheim Resort through hotel taxes, and it’s worked. The most recently approved city budget projects over $155 million in hotel bed tax revenue this upcoming fiscal year—that’s about half of the city’s entire budget, directly attributable to the resort. 

Fact.  A so-called “gate tax” affects both residents and visitors—any dollar tax paid by a resident or visitor to government means one less dollar spent for goods and services provided by local private sector businesses—the real drivers of a thriving economy.  Thankfully, Anaheim agreed not to impose such a gate tax for decades to come in exchange for billions in investment and new attractions.

Fact, the current Tait-Moreno led city council like to deflect onto the resort their own questionable decision-making on societal problems shared by many urban centers.  Are they spending their bounty wisely?  Anaheim will have a $3 million surplus next year and growing.  Sales tax, property tax and TOT are all up in Anaheim. Enhancing parks, adding 10 more police offers and spending tens of millions of dollars to fix city streets highlight their 2017-18 budget.  Unfunded pension liabilities caused by past council decisions? Addressing the homeless issue? Anaheim has the resources to do something about it. They are the envy of 33 other O.C. cities.

Fact.  This Tait-Moreno “majority” came to power with no mandate. The narrow results were largely driven by a polarizing Presidential election and crowded fields in a new citywide district voting system. While Councilman Moreno won by a mere 72 votes, the pro-business council representative for the new Anaheim Resort voting district, Lucille Kring, was overwhelmingly re-elected.

Anaheim and Disneyland Resort have had a mutually beneficial relationship since 1955 when the park opened in a former orange grove.  City residents and business both thrive if their political leaders thoughtfully spend the riches entrusted to them. 

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