It is most curious that this Feasibility Study provides that “operational budget represents new expenses and revenues only.” What happened to the old expenses and revenues? I can see from my review of the report that the old revenues are in fact absorbed into the new projections. There certainly could not be away way for Palmetto Bay Mayor and Council to host even more events at Thalatta Estate from what is listed.
CURRENT EXISITNG COSTS NEVER GO AWAY
You cannot ignore the old costs. You cannot, unless you plan on sweeping those under the budget rug into general park expenses, thus helping to build your “profit” margin. It is disconcerting that the “profitability” upon which this report rests is based upon “a reasonably aggressive approach to estimating revenues.” Another blog beat me to the punch by questioning whether a new business should estimate revenues conservatively. A bank would. Should the taxpayers who are going to ultimately be held financially responsible be entitled to any less?
FCT GRANT WAS FOR AN OPEN PUBLIC PARK – NOT A SPECULATIVE BUSINESS VENTURE
I still cannot get off the point that the Florida Communities Trust (FCT) granted us, the Village, over $3.6 million for a park. You can read my full concerns back on December 1, 2011, by clicking the headline: Thalatta Estate: Should a free park paid for by Florida Residents become an expensive exclusive party venue for those who can afford it? The report provides confirmation that Thalatta will be closed to the public all day Friday and Saturday. Saturday was a huge day to take your family to a public park, at least last time I checked.
I have been very public about my concerns. Besides the promises we made in order to obtain a State Grant, there was never any public outcry that Palmetto Bay needed to address a sorely missing activity: a high fee special event facility, subsidized by the public. This need is served. Besides, as I stated before (Thalatta Estate: A plan that needs more consideration) Wedding events do not subsidize your county tax burdens at county parks such as Vizcaya, Deering Estate, Greynolds Park or any other numerous county parks. Events at Pinecrest Gardens are not reducing Pinecrest taxes. Rental events help defray the costs of the asset, but they are not money generators and it is foolish to think that Palmetto Bay could ever net out $200,000 to $500,000 per year to, as the mayor puts it, “bring income into our (Palmetto Bay’s) coffers.”
The current Palmetto Bay budget has projected revenues of $70,000 for this coming budget year. That is based upon nearly 24 expected events on the property as it currently exists. This is money in, not net profit.
GOODBYE OUTDOOR CHARM – (some) EVENTS ARE MOVING INSIDE
Don’t cheer quiet yet for those of you who look to the construction of the indoor facility as the solution to restoring the quiet enjoyment of their nearly property. There will still be significant outdoor events under this study, at least if the village thinks it can make a profit.
It is ironic that Thalatta was originally sold as an outdoor wedding venue, to take advantage of the view of the bay. The irony is that numbered page 26, page 101 of 120, clearly states, under “keys to overall project success and financial viability,” – “It is absolutely essential that … The following are important market differentiators” and I am not making this up:
“One of the finest and largest indoor venues for weddings and events” as the first and:
“The ability to have exclusive use of the estate for functions and events.” As the fifth.
Wow! Make no mistake, indoor is not a misprint.
You cannot have an outdoor wedding within the 7,500 square foot wedding multipurpose room. The fifth market differentiators says it all; they are taxing your tax dollars and providing your back yard on the bay to those who can afford it (unless you are connected and this council provides you with a special freebee, but that is another blog for a later date).
This report further states that finding these exclusive renters shouldn’t be too much of a problem, as:
“There is a large population base in the area with relatively high levels of disposable income that provides a strong foundation for the use and rental of the Thalatta Estate.”
However – and traffic counters get ready: “However, the estate will need to market itself throughout the Miami area AND BEYOND.” (last full paragraph, numbered page 26, page 101 of 120)
The report notes that Thalatta will be limited as a venue because of a lack of on-site parking. Will events be permitted that demand more parking than Thalatta can offer? If so, where will the cars be parked off-site? How will traffic be affected?
THE PARK THAT WILL NEVER SLEEP (and maybe neither will the neighbors)
What other events will be held there? Look to numbered page 27, page 102 of 120: Birthdays, anniversaries, (undefined) family functions, Holiday Celebrations, Corporate Events, Quinceaneras, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.
JUST THE START OF THALATTA-FEE-TOPIA!
Fees are substantial (See numbered page 35, page 110 of 120) and reach as high as $8.000.00 – for a start. Note that recommended fees (recommended if you want the slight alleged “profit” to be realized) are noted to include catering permit fee, security and janitorial services, as well as (as contained in footnote 6), basic tables and chairs furnished by the estate. All of these are expenses NOT included in the expense projections, but certainly come out of the gross receipts, thereby drastically reducing the alleged net profit.
“All users should be expected to pay market driven rates for use of the estate and all fees should be increased n at least an every two year basis after benchmarking with other providers.” (See numbered page 27, page 102 of 120) (again, unless you are politically connected and this council provides you with a special free bee. I promise, that is another blog for a later date).
Why do you want your tax dollars going into business on such a limited venture. Besides, is the purpose of government really to go into a profit making business?