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Great Bend's Million Dollar Theater

By Christina Stein
News | December 2, 2011

GREAT BEND, Kan. - Democracy, Capitalism. Two very American words. Our forefathers and military men and women have fought to keep Communism at bay. What is shocking is to find it, right here in your very own home town

In a tough economy it might make sense to find a way to lower taxes, quit spending on unnecessary items, but we just can't seem to stop. Are politicians in Great Bend trying to spend their way out of a slumping economy?

Monday, the City Council will decide whether or not to help fund a new Theater Complex in Great Bend. According to figures from a City Council agenda, this movie-plex is asking tax payers to hand over $400,000 in cash and a minimum of $12,000 to cover attorney fees. This is $412,000 of our hard earned money. This theater complex- Theater Six is also asking the City to help them get IRB's to cover all construction.

Furthermore, the City may allow the theater owners to charge additional sales tax, which the City will then hand over to them. It appears the Theater will charge an extra 2% sales tax to see a flick, which can then in turn, go to pay off the IRB's which were loaned to them.

I love a good movie; I watch them at home all the time. I'm not against a good flick. With the current economic situation in this Country and $1 Redbox rentals, movie theaters aren't exactly flourishing. So why invest into a new one? Is this theater worth the cost?

Jobs? No, that can't be it. You see, it is reported the theater would bring 25 new jobs. The people working those jobs will reportedly be coming from a contractor hired out of Kansas City. (Pointed out at a recent City Council Meeting.)

Economic stimulation to downtown, could that be the reason? Most of the stores close before evening shows would even begin. I'm unsure if the City has thought about keeping the downtown stores open later.

I have no problem with the 10 year tax exemption the City is considering giving this business. However, there was a bank in its spot that most likely did pay property tax. How will that money be made up? Through raising personal property taxes?
Bringing in new business is great, but why would I want to pay to start up someone else's business?

Recently, Barton County/Great Bend tax payers gave Red Barn, another business who came in with high demands, hundreds of thousands in cash and tax exemptions. In return we were provided with low paying jobs. Around this same time, Red Barn's executive bought Mayor Allison's home for an undisclosed amount of money. Furthermore, this home was bought by the company of Red Barn several months later.

Dirty backroom deals? Perhaps, but that is why we need to start paying attention locally. Great Bend needs free market capitalism, not government-backed crony capitalism.


(The numbers and information provided in this article derived from a recent City Council Agenda)


2 Comments

You mention a Kansas City based company. I assume your talking either AMC or Dickinson theaters. Both of whom are KC based chains. If any jobs are created they will be mostly minimum wage.

Granted back in high school I worked at a theater. It was considered the really cool place to work since I got to see free movies plus I had this girlfriend whom... well lets not go there.

No, you dont need to give them money to open theaters. Here in Kansas City both have opened numerous theater complexes with often 12 or more screens on expensive pieces of real estate and never once needed tax exemptions. Also Kansas City has a thriving number of privately owned theaters that show mostly art house, foreign, or specialized movies. Again none ever needed tax exemptions.

PS. Are there still any drive ins out there??


Christina, I commend you for taking an active interest in how and to whom the Great Bend city council spends taxpayer money. Surely you will try to help elect other representatives more in tune with your philosophy. However, there's a considerable difference between "crony capitalism" and "communism." I would encourage you to rethink your opening paragraph, and consider re-editing it.


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