Georgia town spends half its annual budget to drive out business

The town of Lavonia in extreme northeast Georgia is making news today for spending $1 million to buy and close a strip club called Cafe Risque that the town has been trying to shut down for years. A million bucks, I suppose, is the market price for self-righteous indignation that a business you don’t approve of would dare bring visitors and money to your community.

There are a couple of aspects of this not being touched upon by the media – which is focused on the “town buys strip club” angle. One is that Lavonia is a very small town. So small, in fact, that they haven’t updated their budget on the city’s website in four years. But in 2004, the total operating budget for Lavonia was $1.78 million, meaning the $1 million spent to drive the club out of town (no doubt rolled in to a capital budget, not operating) probably still represents half of the city’s total annual operating budget. Couple the up-front costs with the ongoing lost tax revenue from the club itself and other businesses such as gas stations and restaurants that benefit from the traffic, and Lavonia is putting a huge premium on their piousness.

Secondly, Lavonia is just a few miles from the South Carolina border, and about 20 miles from the southernmost strip club along I-85 in the Palmetto State. So Lavonia was no doubt getting strip-club business from Georgians who otherwise would (and now will) drive on up to South Carolina to get their strip on. A Google Maps search shows Greenville and eastern South Carolina is silly with strip clubs. Buying out Club Risque will have little impact on the immoral behavior of Lavonians and northeast Georgians – it’ll just send them up the road to South Carolina to spend their money.

The town could have simply accepted the existence of Club Risque – opened before Lavonia clamped down on strip clubs in their local ordinances – as a loopholed business and let things be. Customers would visit if they chose to, Club Risque would generate tax revenue, drive traffic to other nearby businesses and Lavonians could just go about their lives; helped along by a little smut-generated tax revenue.

But no. Nakedness and sexuality so offend this outpost of propriety that the town was willing to come up with half as much money as it spends to operate the entire town each year and forego untold future tax revenue to make their town strip-club free.

Sad.

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7 Responses to “Georgia town spends half its annual budget to drive out business”

  1. Smoove D says:

    Interesting analysis. I heard about that and my initial thought was what a waste of $1 million dollars. I didn’t think through the forgone future tax revenue. Anyway, I think the lesson learned is people are stupid.

  2. Meathead says:

    If the owners of the strip club really wanted to poke the fine people of Lavonia in the eye, they would take their $1M buyout and rebuld Cafe Risque just outside of their jurisdiction. Be that city or county limits, it would be a fantastic victory for the American dream. Build a successful & legal business. Have the government oppose your legal business. Have that same government spend over half of their annual budget to get you to leave. Use said government’s payoff to relocate 5 miles down the road & proceed with business as usual in a brand new modern facility. Winners: the modern entrepreneurs who own Cafe Risque, desperate men (and women) who want to pay to see bewbs in their faces, and 18 year old girls with low self esteem & even lower ACT scores. Not to mention the tax municipality of the new location. Losers: The city of Livonia who just funded a complete renovation of what they despise.

  3. m says:

    just a note, lavonia is in northeast ga

  4. Cap'n Ken says:

    M – damn, I knew that. Up I-85. Thanks for the catch.

  5. wadka says:

    just drove I-85 both directions and most of the CLUB RISQUE EXIT 173 billboards are still up two months later … Not as many as there used to be, but still quite a few … Wonder how much Lavonia is going to pay to have those removed ???

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  7. John Holmes says:

    AS LONG AS SEX IS TABOO, IT WILL CONTINUE TO BE BIG BUSINESS. THE FUNDIES WHO OPPOSE IT ARE THE MOST GUILTY. EVANGELICAL CHURCHES HAVE THE HIGHEST ABORTION AND DIVORCE RATES IN ALL OF CHRISTIANITY COMBINED.
    LET THE GIRLS DANCE AND ENJOY LIFE!

    AMEN BROTHER BILLY BOB! YOU KNOW YOU WATCH!

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