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Wrong turn for tourism


February 14, 2014 Letters to the Editor

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The Butler County Tourism Agency was put in place to benefit Butler County’s hotels, restaurants, gift shops and other tourist destinations.

Now, the agency has become a threat to the same businesses it was designed to help.

The tourism agency wants to rebuild a restaurant and put a new hotel in Zelienople. It will have a bar and, probably, gift items for sale.

If the Kaufman House can’t survive as a private business, should it be subsidized so the tourism agency can use its favored quasi-public status to unfairly take customers from other, often struggling businesses?

If people working in a public agency want to get into business, why don’t they resign from their public positions and do so, without an umbilical cord to taxpayers? Maybe they don’t want to actually take the risk of starting and financing a real business. It’s much easier, though less courageous, to let taxpayers take the risks and provide high-sounding reasons why we should.

It is unfair to use public borrowing ability, underpinned by taxpayers, to compete with private hotels, restaurants, bars and gift shops, all of which pay property taxes.

Many of us did not think a tourism agency was needed in the first place. Few thought it would have swollen into a self-serving threat to the same tourist destinations it is supposed to help.

Even those in favor of some private-public partnerships are embarrassed by this excess.

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