I've always believed it's a good idea to help an individual or business get on their feet. Sometimes a little help from a public or private agency is all it takes for someone to become successful. Grants, scholarships, low or no-interest loans are examples of helping. Once an individual or business is stable, the welfare stops.
When our economy was at its lowest, the city of Lodi changed its funding for "Visit Lodi!" the visitor and Conference Bureau, from a set dollar amount from the general fund to a percent of Transit Occupancy Tax. This sounded good at the time. Now that they are self-sustaining with an 11.2 percent increase in TOT last year, its time to stop the $100,000-plus a year general fund support.
These dollars can keep the pool open at Hutchins Street Square for seniors, recreation and after school programs for our children, along with a host of other needed services cut due to the economy. When everyone in Lodi has taken a cut, it doesn't make good sense to give "Visit Lodi!" a raise.
Our economy is growing in Lodi because of the efforts of the wine commission, festivals, fairs, city-sponsored functions, art and cultural events, weddings and individual wineries all promoting Lodi. All these events bring people into Lodi, where they spend money and fill hotel rooms. No one person or agency can quantify that they alone created the increase in the TOT. National hotels have built two new facilities in Lodi since 2008, recognizing that Lodi is the new Napa. This is a community effort that no one person or agency can claim as their own success without looking foolish.
Times are tough for all of us: layoffs, closures, reduction in pay, food prices going up, rent increases, gas prices soaring; everyone is experiencing a squeeze.
The welfare needs to end. I'm happy for the Visitor Center's success of a 11.2 percent increase. It's now time to wean Visit Lodi! from the government teat.