The NSC is a great place to visit and seems to be very well managed, but the numbers they are touting to push passage of the $20 million dollar bond just don’t add up.
1) In his letter this week to the Rhino Times (print edition only it appears), Gary Brown, Chairman of the NSC Board of Trustees, writes “This facility will provide a truly affordable and family-oriented science education and tourism destination”. In his economic impact study, presumably at the direction of the NSC, Dr. Brod assumes no “price changes“. This is completely unrealistic.
Doing an (admittedly non-exhaustive) search of the internet, I found 7 aquariums (aquaria?), averaged their ticket prices and came up with $25.75 for adults.* The current price at the NSC is $8 for adults and $7 for children 3 and up with a $1 discount for city residents. Aquariums are very expensive to operate. The least expensive adult admission price that I found was $16 and that was for the Seattle Aquarium which is an aquarium only, not also a zoo. It is extremely disingenuous for the NSC to assume no increase in ticket prices!
2) The Economic Impact Study does not include any projections assuming the bond does not pass. That makes it impossible to determine the NET impact of the $20 million bond issue.
3) The NSC website claims “250 jobs supported”. Currently, the study claims 153 jobs are supported by the NSC (this includes “indirect” and “induced” employment). I can not get to 250 jobs** when looking at the numbers in the economic impact study, although clearly some of the jobs created in the interim periods (up to 2018) would be for construction and would be temporary. Nevertheless, assuming the net impact will be 100 new jobs, that works out to $200,000 of tax payer money per job created.
*Feel free to ask me for the list!
** I come up with 414.4 if I total everything up as listed in the Economic Impact Analysis that is presented on the website, starting with 153 or 369.5 starting at 0 (but that is nonsensical). So probably Dr. Brod is taking the construction jobs back out to get at 253.