AUSTIN (KXAN) - Texas Comptroller Susan Combs has issued $29.3 million from the state's Major Event Trust Fund for the Formula One race in Austin.
The payment was made on Friday to Circuit Events Local Organizing Committee , or CELOC, as reimbursement for expenses of bringing the U.S. Grand Prix to Texas. The state of Texas was responsible for $25.3 million, and the city of Austin matched $4 million.
Combs committed to that amount on Aug.12 based on economic impact projections made during CELOC's application process. Don Hoyte of TexasEconomicImpact.com presented the estimate numbers.
However, new indicators suggest the projections may have been exaggerated. F1's finance arm, FormulaMoney, published a report comparing the Austin estimates to the U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis from 2000 through 2007.
The report showed that Austin's numbers were ambitious compared to the Indianapolis actuals in every category, which included airfare, hotels, food & beverage, rental car and related enterprises.
In addition, a report by Smith Travel Research showed Austin metro hotel revenue from Formula One week. During a five-day stretch (Nov. 14-18, 2012) leading up to the F1 race, hotel revenue was $32.7 million. That's about 3 times the revenue from the same stretch the previous year (Nov. 16-20, 2011), when hotels brought in $10.4 million.
The Texas Major Event Trust Fund is based on incremental tax gain from an event, which would be taxes from about $22.3 million for hotels in this case. The same measurements are taken for categories like shopping & entertainment, rental cars, and mixed beverages.
Some Austin businesses did not see the same incremental gain.
"It just was not happening," said Gina McClelland of Guero's Taco Bar. "Our business went down, kind of significantly."
The $22.3 million incremental hotel revenue is on par with the Indianapolis average of $22.7, but TexasEconomicImpact.com estimated the incremental gain to be $49.8 million.
"I think in promoting the event, and also promoting the event to produce the yield out of the Major Event Trust Fund, they just hyped [economic projections] into a zone of unreality," said Richard Viktorin, a CPA for Audits in the Public Interest. "And, that's where the dashed expectations have now come from."
The Comptroller's Office says they will conduct a post-race study within 18 months of the 2012 U.S. Grand Prix as part of the Major Event Trust Fund statute. They will use the findings to more accurately release funds in future Formula One events.
The judge presiding over the trial to oust District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg ruled Wednesday that she'll stay in office.
Mack Brown’s longtime friend and attorney said Wednesday that the veteran coach of the Longhorns has not yet made a decision on his future, but that it will come soon.
The Austin City Council will take up billing errors and problems with the appeals process at Austin Energy during Thursday's meeting.
Options for high speed Internet in Austin continue to expand. Google Fiber is coming to Austin soon, and now AT&T has announced the city will be the first for its own faster-than-ever Internet speeds.
After hundreds of park-goers complained about a lack of off-leash dog space in the new design of Auditorium Shores, the Austin Parks and Recreation Board is hoping a compromise will alleviate any concerns.
The sign-language interpreter on stage at Nelson Mandela's globally broadcast memorial service was a faker who was waving his arms around meaninglessly, advocates for the deaf said Wednesday.