Albany City Commissioners recently gave the Flint Riverquarium 150-thousand dollars to remain open and at least have a chance to look for new private funding sources.
Some said the city should give the Riverquarium nothing and let this beautiful and unique tourist attraction close after just eight years. Have those critics forgotten about the Albany Civic Center or Chehaw? Taxpayers have been underwriting both of those facilities for more than 30-years. Using the same standard, those facilities should have been shuttered years ago.
Right now, Chehaw gets a little more than one million dollars from the city every year. Each year taxpayers essentially write a check to cover the Civic Center’s losses. Over the last five years, the city has sent an average of 1.13-million dollars a year from the General Fund to the Civic Center.
All three of the attractions are important to Albany. Maybe they aren’t as successful as they could be, and managers should definitely work harder to make them more self-sufficient, but they bring attention, visitors, and revenue to the city. They’re worth saving, and they’re worth supporting with tax money. But if commissioners want to stop supporting one, it shouldn’t be the one that has cost us the least and been given the shortest time to succeed.
Written by Jim Wilcox, general manager of WALB.