County Council once again demonstrates its ability to waste money

To the editor:

The ability of the St. Louis County Council to waste tax dollars was again demonstrated recently when it approved $1.1 million to the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission for another marketing initiative.

Though likely to accomplish little or nothing, the hucksters from the CVC claim the initiative will return $88 on every dollar it gets.

The County Council has given millions of dollars for other CVC initiatives in prior years, with the same promise of big returns, but it’s hard to see any dividends. Just last year, the County Council approved $250,000 toward a $750,000 party the CVC gave for association executives. The executives were said to be key decision-makers for meetings and conventions. The party was part of a convention that cost taxpayers about $2 million.

The CVC people claim it was all worth it. They say it caused 26 meetings to be booked, resulting in an estimated $21 million of direct expenditures.

What are the names of the organizations that booked the meetings? Who made the $21 million estimate? Officials at the Convention & Visitors Commission refuse to say.

When asked for documents related to the $750,000 party, the CVC wants $1,450 a week, payable in advance, to provide any documents and claim it would take several weeks. It has to be wondered what they are trying to keep covered up.

County Councilman Steve Stenger, D-Affton, the self-proclaimed “south county taxpayer watchdog,” supports all the wasteful spending. When he was the council chairman last year, he refused to even answer questions about the $750,000 party.

The funds given to the CVC come from the county’s Convention and Recreation Trust Fund, which is supported by a hotel/motel tax. The funds are supposed to promote tourism. It has been suggested that some of the funds might better go for county parks, as they attract tourists, but this has been rejected by County Executive Charlie Dooley and the County Council.

People, jobs and revenue have been leaving St. Louis County in record numbers. In the last decade alone, the county lost 88,000 jobs. This isn’t surprising when county government wastes millions of tax dollars like it does.