[Editor’s Note: District 6 Councilman Trevor O’Neil published this on his Facebook page on Friday, April 3 – partly in response to an off-target, misinformed OC Register editorial.]
My priority is to ensure the continued fiscal and economic health of our city, so Anaheim has the resources to fund essential services like police and fire, improve our roads and parks, and meet our unfunded pension obligations.
Business owners know that investment in your business is needed to grow your business, and that’s exactly the move that we made. Visit Anaheim is not a private business, but the nonprofit management entity for our city’s Tourism Improvement District. Funded through a special tax in the resort area, it’s role is to bring visitors and conventioners from around the world to spend their money in Anaheim. That generates tax revenue for the city, which goes a long way to fund essential city services, while keeping taxes on Anaheim residents low. With Visit Anaheim’s funding mechanism all but gone because of the current health crisis, it can’t do it’s job, and city revenues suffer as a result.
Our action last week was an economic stimulus strategy to help make sure that we are “recovery ready,” so that when this crisis is over, conventions and tourism return to Anaheim as swiftly as possible, and stronger than ever before. Note also that the money to be invested in Visit Anaheim comes from a Convention Center fund, not taken away from other general fund resources or reserves. Sure people will organically return to the resort over time, just like if you own a business you might organically capture customers here and there. But a proactive approach will yield a much better ROI – and that’s what we need to avoid future cuts to services or tax increases.
And with respect to the Register’s Editorial Board (who endorsed my candidacy in 2018), please don’t take blog posts from a web site that is funded by the Mayor’s opponents as fact. Contrary to what was reported in this editorial, we did not reject a performance review for the investment in Visit Anaheim. As is clear in the staff report and the audio recording of the meeting, the City Manager was in fact given the authority to negotiate terms and performance metrics.