Asheville City Councilwoman Gwen Wisler, in an email to constituents, says she’s planning to vote against giving Moog Music Inc. $40,000 in cash to help it stage the revamped Moogfest music and technology festival in April.
Wisler, a first-time political candidate who won her seat in last year’s election, says in the email that she expects to be the minority on an upcoming vote on the issue. Here’s more:
Moogfest is a multi-day electronic music festival held in Asheville. This year, organizers will expand the festival offerings to include seminars and tech company presentations and recently came to the PED committee with a request for $40,000 in cash support plus $50,000 worth of in-kind city services. I voted no to the cash support and yes to the in-kind support. Jan and Marc voted in favor of both. Therefore, the request for funding will be brought before Council.
A Matter of Fairness
I support Moogfest. Who doesn’t love the idea of world-class musicians and tech entrepreneurs visiting Asheville? I am very encouraged by the chance that some great relationships will be formed during this festival. Hopefully, new jobs will be created. The $50,000 worth of in-kind City services for a Moogfest expansion seems a reasonable investment and very generous. However, I cannot justify favoring a request for $40,000 cash for a festival that is not open to the public.
In this case, Moogfest has requested financial funding up-front and the funding would not come from foregone property taxes. I believe in fairness and an equal playing field. Giving $40,000 in public funding to Moogfest pre-event is not fair to all the organizations that received their City incentives through the traditional property tax method. If Moogfest needs up-front cash, it makes more sense to me for festival organizers to raise the money privately or by other means such as the Chamber of Commerce or the Tourism and Development Authority.
So, dear readers, what do you think? Should Asheville City Council hand over our tax dollars to Moogfest? Should it stop at in-kind services, or give ’em some cash, too?