PALM DESERT – The city of Palm Desert is keeping an eye on potential hospitality and tourist dollars as it rolls out two of its premiere events over the next few weeks.
But with events like the upcoming Art of Food and Wine Festival and Fashion Week, questions are being raised over their priority over infrastructural and public safety projects that still loom over the city.
In fact, about $500,000 is needed to bring in fine wine distributors to the festival, which brings in 4,000 tourists, at most. That’s more than $100 in taxpayer money spent for every tourist.
Palm Desert residents we spoke to say there’s no need to spend money on things like the festival, usually pointing out that that money should be better spend to help the public.
Palm Desert Mayor Bob Spiegel, though, defended the fest and its price tag.
“It’s a premiere event. You can’t really equate it to the dollars it will cost you and the dollars you make.”
Palm Desert city council does have around $60 million left in the bank. But the $5 million cutbacks mean major road improvements will be postponed and police jobs are kept unfilled.
“I think we need more protection in our area,” says Palm Desert resident Nancy Hall. “I’ve been here seven years. I can see how crime has increased in seven years.”
El Paseo Fashion Week also costs the city big bucks.
“As the main sponsor, [the city is] giving Palm Springs Life $150,000,” said Mayor Spiegel. “Will we make $150,000 in sales tax that week? No. But we’ll be bringing people to our Desert and we’ll be the only fashion show in Southern California.”