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Even MORE Formula 1 Austin Follies! More Welfare!

PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 4:50 pm
by harry ashburn ... 19833.html

F1 organizers reapply for state funds
From the Web By Dave Doolittle

A group affiliated with Circuit of the Americas has reapplied to state Comptroller Susan Combs' office to tap an economic development fund for a Formula One race scheduled for November.

The application, filed by the Circuit Events Local Organizing Committee on July 13, asks Combs to create a trust fund containing $30.6 million. It contains a revised economic impact study, letters from City of Austin officials and Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone, and other documents.

"We will review and analyze the request as required by the statute to estimate the incremental tax increase the event would generate," comptroller's office spokesman R.J. DeSilva said Friday. "Any money deposited in the fund would be used after the race occurs to reimburse expenses related to the event."

The committee, which was approved by the city last year to act on its behalf, had originally applied to tap the Major Events Trust Fund in June of last year but withdrew the application a month later when the date of the Austin race was changed from this June to November.

Under state law, fund applications must be submitted no earlier than one year and no later than three months before an event, DeSilva said. The first Formula One race at the Circuit of the Americas, a racetrack under construction in southeastern Travis County, is scheduled for Nov. 16 through 18. The Major Events Trust Fund, which is administered by the comptroller's office, in the past has been used to draw the Super Bowl and NBA All-Star games to the state.

To qualify for the trust fund subsidy, organizers must prove that their event will generate at least the same amount of money in "extra" sales, alcohol, hotel and car rental taxes.

A revised economic impact study submitted with the application says that the race will generate a little more than $293 million in direct economic impact for the area, which is about $1 million more than was cited in a report with last year's application. The revised study says that direct impact would produce about $26.4 million in new tax revenue for the state, a number that was almost unchanged from the previous report.

It also claims 4,962 jobs will be created by out-of-state spending, a decrease of 17 jobs from the previous study.

Both studies were written by Don Hoyte, a former economist for the comptroller's office who now runs a company that produces economic impact studies and advises trust fund applicants on how to secure money through the state program.

The circuit would apply the bulk of the funds toward a sanctioning fee to host the race, originally believed to be about $25 million.

The Texas Legislature in 2009 appropriated $25 million from the state's general fund, which promoters had said would cover the sanctioning fee. Subsequent races would have received up to $25 million annually from the trust fund subsidy for 10 years.

But in November, Combs said no state money would be paid in advance of the first race amid uncertainty over the future of the track and race as well an announcement of plans to hold an F1 race in New Jersey in 2013.

"The only money that would be used is what's deposited in the (major events fund)," DeSilva said.

Contact Dave Doolittle at 

UPDATE!: Even MORE Formula 1 Austin Follies! More Welfare!

PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 3:10 pm
by harry ashburn
Attorney general doesn't resolve questions about F1's eligibility for state funds

ByDave Doolittle
Updated: 10:15 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17, 2012

Published: 10:13 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17, 2012

In an opinion issued Friday, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott did not resolve questions about whether Formula One races planned near Austin beginning in November should receive state money.

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson requested the opinion in March, saying that no state money should go to the race because Circuit of the Americas, a racetrack under construction in southeastern Travis County, was selected to host races by Formula One Management without an application from a local entity.

The issue centers around the Major Events Trust Fund, a state economic development fund administered by Comptroller Susan Combs' office that has been used to attract events such as Super Bowls and NCAA basketball Final Four tournaments. But its potential use for Formula One has been controversial.

It also has political overtones, as Patterson and Combs, both Republicans, have indicated they plan to run for lieutenant governor in 2014. Combs has said her office would not release funds until after a race, scheduled for Nov. 16-18.

Abbott's opinion says that, under trust fund statutes, an event is eligible for funds only if a local entity submits an application to a site selection organization, such as the NFL or Formula One Management.

However, "whether such an application was actually submitted in this case is a matter of factual dispute that cannot be resolved through the opinion process," Abbott's opinion said.

In his request, Patterson said that despite open-records requests to the city, county and Combs' office, he has not seen a copy of an application, and therefore none exists.

In a response, Combs points to a letter sent to her office from Formula One Management CEO Bernie Ecclestone confirming that the Austin area was selected "based on an application."

An attorney general's opinion is not as binding as a court ruling but still carries substantial weight as the state's official interpretation of the law.

"We are pleased with today's attorney general opinion," R.J. DeSilva, a spokesman for Combs' office, said in an email. "All the rules laid out in statute are properly followed when analyzing applications made for Major Events Trust Funds."

Patterson said he anticipates an injunction will be filed to stop Combs from dispersing the funds.

"I think the Legislature needs to look at the administration of the Major Events Trust Fund, particularly in the case of Formula One," Patterson said. "You can make a case that (the statute) needs fixing, but it's clear you need an application."

A group affiliated with the circuit and approved by the city to act on its behalf applied to Combs' office in July for a trust fund containing $30.6 million, based on estimates that the race would generate a little more than $293 million in direct economic impact for the area. Combs' office said it established that fund in a letter to Austin City Manager Marc Ott dated Sunday.

"We have worked with the local organizing committee in following the process to secure and host this international event," circuit President Steve Sexton said Friday.

The committee had originally applied to tap the fund in June last year but withdrew the application a month later when the date of the Austin race was changed from this June to November.

Once an event is over, the trust fund applies revenue from "extra" tax collections attributable to the event to pay costs incurred from hosting it.

Contact Dave Doolittle at 445-3671; Twitter: 
@statesmanf1 ... 37709.html