Cinema should be private

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The residents of Selma have repeatedly named a cinema as one of the top things they’d like to see in the area.

But should a multi-plex theater come at the expense of taxpayers? Or should it be a private venture?

In his first draft of next year’s budget Mayor James Perkins Jr. is proposing a bond issue that would be used to purchase heavy equipment, traffic cameras, upgrades to the public safety building. It would also include funds to help build a six-theater movie complex on the Alabama River.

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The budget has $1.5 million of the proposed $4,374,911 in new bond debt, with scheduled payments over 15 years. The city currently has $1,715,000 left to pay on a 1999 bond issue.

The proposed theater would be located on Alabama Avenue and would be built-out by the city. Debt service on the 10-year proposal would be $192,844 a year. While no deal has been inked between the city and a prospective vendor, Perkins said it’s a start.

It may be true that citizens have been asking for a movie theater in Selma.

Certainly, it would be preferable for residents to have a nice cinema in Selma and not have to drive to Montgomery or Prattville to watch a movie.

But the city’s interest should be in pursuing a company that would be willing to make that investment in our community.

City funds should be used for infrastructure, police protection, road repairs and public parks. Not private enterprise.

The government’s role should be in recruiting private businesses. Any financial investment by the city should be limited.