Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Folks at the Rex keep digging that hole

Now, we here in the Reddest County in the Reddest State of the Union ® usually don’t cotton to protests, that being the hallmark of the hippie-leftists-commies in Idaho Falls and Boise. But if the owners of The Rex theater keep on asking for (or keep on getting) waivers on their property taxes, I may be ready to lead a protest.

First, a little background: The Rex is a four-screen theater built in Rexburg, Idaho, a few years ago by a small Wyoming company that has built a handful of other similar complexes in small towns in the area. They also have a restaurant that serves rubbery pasta, a bowling alley and a game room.

Last year, they asked for – and received – a waiver of their $80,000 county property tax bill because, I don’t know, popcorn sales were off or something. Now, we don’t have many theaters in town. Carmike shut down its two theaters, leaving The Rex and a locally-owned discount theater (which expanded into one of Carmikes’ abandoned properties) as the only theaters in town.

Back when they got their waiver, I wondered – why didn’t the local theater also get a waiver, if we’re so pro-business chest-thumping Republican up here, firm believers in equal treatment under the la – oh yeah. We’re not. It’s the ol’ buddy system, in which you only get what you ask for. The Rex asked. The locals didn’t.

Now they’re saying they’re going to ask again – after they whined about how much the county pegged their property’s value at (see story here: http://www.rexburgstandardjournal.com/articles/2008/07/01/news/doc486a579a37c99785312376.txt) The first waiver got our county commissioners in lukewarm water at the primaries; one of two incumbents lost over the tax flap. Now we’ll see how this next flap unfolds.

We’ve already stayed away from the Rex, at first for practical reasons – our best babysitters (and, frankly, the better high-end theater) are in Idaho Falls. But when The Rex got their property taxes waived, that was another reason not to go there. Listening to them complaining again makes me think staying away is the right decision.

It’s doubtful they’ll get the waiver for a second time – but if they do, I’ll protest. I’ll ask for a waiver of my home property taxes. Something to put me on equal grou – oh yea, it doesn’t work that way here.

These are supposed to be businessmen. If you can’t make enough money to cover your property taxes, it’s time to get out of the business. I’m sure they had dollar signs instead of eyes when they eyed Rexburg for their newest theater, what with student population at the local university exploding. But there still seem to be lots of crowds making the journey to Idaho Falls, for movies and many other things.

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