At first glance, following last week’s council meeting, it appeared as though city leaders were trying to run the Texas Mile out of town.
It was reported in Saturday’s edition that they denied the Texas Mile’s owners, Shannon and Jay Matus, any assistance from the city’s HOT (or hotel occupancy tax) funds, used “to put heads in beds” or stage special events and bring visitors here.
However, in the confusion over this issue at the meeting, Mayor David Carabajal explained the council voted to give the organization $29,500 to be spent strictly on promoting the event.
He said the money cannot be used to pay the cost of a $50 million insurance policy required by the Bee Development Authority to host the unique, twice-a-year, land speed event at the Chase Field site.
We can understand the strong feelings from all key players in this three-sided argument.
First, from the city’s perspective, we empathize with Councilwoman Libby Spires, who said, “I’m hard-pressed to continue subsidizing a private company.”
Councilman George P. “Trace” Morrill agreed, adding though about the Texas Mile, “I think it’s great what you do.” He thought with increased support for the event here, the city’s financial commitment to it should decrease.
However, it’s easy to see where the Matuses are coming from, wanting some help with a portion of the $100,000 plus that their organization would have to cough up to pay the premium on the insurance policy they deem is exorbitant.
She thought the BDA would reduce the $50 million insurance requirement to a more reasonable $10 million, which they believe is the standard requirement of any speed-related event, such as NASCAR.
Yet, the BDA board and its director, Joe Montez, believe the higher amount is needed to protect its assets (hangars and planes) at Chase for present and future tenants. It’s better known as fiduciary responsibility.
A major crash or fire could consume a lot of facilities there quickly, they point out. Is it probable? No. Is it possible? Well, yes.
Regardless, if the BDA doesn’t renegotiate, and perhaps lower the insurance requirement to a more reasonable amount, it runs the risk of forcing the Texas Mile to shift gears and race off to another location.
That would result in a lot of unhappy auto racers, pit crews and fans, and shut down one rare, exciting event hosted in this city for young people, including college auto technology students. Like it or not, the Texas Mile brings Beeville some valuable national, and even international, publicity.