A presentation at Tuesday’s Midland County Commissioners Court meeting revealed that local taxpayers are out $32,000 after county commissioners subsidized a Doobie Brothers concert at the county’s event venue, the Horseshoe, in April.
Combined with an $80,000 loss from a tax-subsidized Jeff Foxworthy show in 2015, Midland taxpayers are out $112,000 to date.
The Doobie Brothers payment was approved in March when commissioners voted to pay $50,000 out of the county’s “promotions account.” The account, which was created in 2015 to promote performances at the Horseshoe complex, is comprised of funds pulled from existing county budgets. After each subsidized performance, fifty percent of the profits from ticket sales go back into the promotions account, while the remainder is deposited into the county’s general fund.
According to Dooley Management, who gave a report on the concert on Tuesday, approximately $18,000 was generated in ticket sales revenue, which will go back to the county and be divided between the promotions account and the general fund. About 1,571 people attended.
In other words, the county spent $50,000 to get $18,000 in return.
Terry Johnson, who won the Republican nomination to replace retiring County Judge Mike Bradford in 2019, has noted that he plans to take a serious look at the county’s promotions account and encourage the court to dissolve it completely.
“The Commissioners Court has shown they are not good at making a profit investing our money in the entertainment business and should bow out of that activity as gracefully as possible,” Johnson said. “Although not an illegal act, this is a misappropriation of public funds. Government on any level should not compete with the private sector; it is a lopsided competition to use public money against the public.”