Governor Mark Sanford has begun using the Internet to communicate some of his thoughts on wasteful spending in the state. Last Thursday the following was posted on his twitter site, “waste #3: Highway Patrol offers traffic control for football games, costing $1 million/year, but taxpayers – not schools – foot the bill”. Tom Regan, a professor in the Sports and Entertainment Department at the University of South Carolina says during difficult economic times it is common for the government to seek wasteful spending within the budget but did point out that home football games at USC alone generates millions in tax revenue for the Columbia-Metropolitan area.
“I did an impact study on Gamecock football and I updated that study using consumer price index,” said Regan. “I did that study five years ago and I updated it. The update showed that an indirect business taxes, which is off an economic business modeling system, of $3.5 million. And the indirect business taxes include sales, use, and excise taxes that would come into the greater Columbia-Metropolitan area.”
In a release, the governor’s office says the actual cost of traffic control at USC and Clemson football games is $473,000 a year.
Regan says that using highway patrolmen as traffic control for football games does place a burden on public safety and is not handled the same way in other states. Regan says, “The burden upon officers is fairly significant because is you have 160, probably closer to 200,000 people, because not everybody goes into the game, that are attending the big stadiums at Clemson and Carolina. Of course, you have to take a look at it. I don’t know what it costs or anything like that, but, not every state handles in the same way.”
The $1 million dollars is for traffic control at all special events statewide including the Heritage and and Carolina Cup. Regan says the economic impact of these events on their communities is significant. “It goes into all different businesses and they have to file their sales tax reports just like everybody else does when they generate them,” he said. “Excise tax on gas alone is significant and then when you take a look at how that is dispersed within the communities and metropolitan areas. It affects so many different…from motels, restaurants, all the tourism type sectors, and then eating and drinking establishments.”