Sales-Tax-Funded Sailfish Splash Barely Afloat

Did Martin County taxpayers get their money’s worth from the $10 million waterpark funded by a recent sales tax hike? Commissioner Ed Ciampi stood up before twenty or so attendees at last week’s town hall and delivered the answer…

Sailfish Splash generated almost no profit last year

One-point-three MILLION dollars. That’s how much the park took in last year. Mic drop.

What Ciampi didn’t mention was that the waterpark’s $1.3 million was gross revenue. Costs totaled roughly $1.3 million. The park kept around $13,000. At that rate, the park will pay for itself in approximately 700 years. But taxpayers don’t get the profit anyway–it goes straight to the park’s operations, not taxpayers.

Ciampi wants another sales tax boost, this time to raise $230 million over ten years for water quality projects. And other things. Details are scarce. Touting the waterpark’s success was Ciampi’s answer to critics who said the last tax increase was sold as funding for “essential” projects. And to many, Sailfish Splash was the definition of non-essential.

Martin County votes today on whether to tax itself for another decade. Without specific plans for how the money can be spent, opponents see a blank check in Ciampi’s hands. Whoever benefits from it this time, they’re pretty sure it won’t be them.

The waterpark made $1.3 million last year. Almost exactly what it spent.