TopGolf: a case study in misguided “economic development”

At Monday’s Albuquerque City Council meeting a vote will be held on whether or not to hand TopGolf a $2.6 million economic development package including $400,000 in cash; reimbursement of 30 percent of city gross receipts tax revenue, up to $1.8 million, to assist the site developer with costs of land, building or infrastructure.

Finally, the City’s package will include $326,000 from city transportation infrastructure tax revenue for improvements to Culture Road, which leads to the project.

But that’s not all! Bernalillo County has already given initial approval to the idea of spending an additional $1.75 million in public money to help pay for the project.

All of this is questionable (especially the $400K and the GRT reimbursement), but what makes it even more problematic is the fact that 8 of our 9 city councilors (excepting Brad Winter) JUST passed a massive, regressive tax hike that hasn’t even taken effect yet! That tax will raise the GRT from the current 7.5% to 7.875%.

At the time, Council President Ken Sanchez said, “This vote tonight will be one of the most difficult votes that I make as an Albuquerque city councilor, but I firmly believe we have no other choice.” So, a City that didn’t have enough money to pay cops a few months ago now has plenty of money for subsidized golf.

The thing sadder than all of this is that supposed “Republicans” on City Council (Trudy Jones and Don Harris) handed Mayor Keller a tax hike he didn’t even ask for back in March, now they are making him look like a fiscal conservative when he speaks out against corporate welfare.

Come out to City Council this Monday starting at 5pm and tell them what you think of their financial mismanagement!

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9 Replies to “TopGolf: a case study in misguided “economic development””

  1. My thinking is that the City should have given Topgolf less upfront money, the $400,00, and let them have a bigger GRT Reimbusement. This way, more of the Incentive to Topgolf would be from GRT that they are generating themselves. Noting that the vacant land at the site isn’t currently generating any GRT at all. And after the development of the property, it will generate a great deal more in property taxes than the vacant land does.

  2. What am I missing? Most elected officials in NM realize (but will never publicly admit) that the state is such an unattractive place to do business in comparison to nearby states, that many new businesses will only come to the state if bribed to do so in the form of tax incentives. TopGolf will simply be the most recent of a long line of profitable companies that has been bribed to come to the state. Are the elected officials who propose these tax giveaways ever asked the following simple question:” Have you conducted an economic study to determine the number of jobs that will be lost or not created as a result of private business having to pay the taxes to fund this new benefit package?”

  3. This was problematic from the start when it was to be funded with LEDA monies, implying that these were “base economic jobs”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Topgolf “promises” only 25 salaried positions, then 123 32hr/wk “full time” jobs, and finally 227 part time positions which very likely will be of the “tipped income” genre meaning a reduced minimum wage. With respect to the GRT, Topgolf’s revenue comes from discretionary income of which there is a very limited amoun in Albuquerque. Monies spent at Topgolf are monies not spent at Isotopes, Lobo sports, concert venues, etc. Once again, government is picking winners.

  4. I find I am becoming more and more negative about this State. TopGolf is just another sports bar type restaurant in the service, entertainment industry. It creates no high paying jobs; it builds nothing; it creates nothing. It is very much like the rest of NM. We are 75 years behind neighboring States and we have not a clue about what we are doing economically except more Socialism. This is truly sad.

  5. And who in the city will be responsible to verify this corporations inflated numbers of jobs and revenue to stay in compliance with the economic package? Until this blue state turns red, we will always have to give away the farm to get companies to come here.

  6. I am a life time golfer.Top Golf holds no interest for me or other golfers I know. Top Golf reminds me of a big Bowling Alley with a restaurant and bar.

    The ‘incentives” the city is giving away for GRT reimbursement, cold hard cash, and “free” infrastructure costs is over the top. Top Golf is a family entertainment center, producing nothing except “fun” for some.

    Since WHEN is the city endowed to provide tax payer monies for a “FAD”?

  7. What’s dismaying is that nearly every one of our politicians believes that the ONLY way to attract employers is to bribe them — in order to offset the self-imposed disadvantages of doing business in Albuquerque.

    Many cities attract business successfully in ways that don’t cost a dime: by streamlining permits, enacting business-friendly policies and by refraining from costly employer mandates such as minimum wage and sick leave laws.

    1. I’m sure businesses want something in exchange for dealing with the bureaucrats and regulations around here, but I totally agree.

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