Sioux Falls, SD
Two Sioux Falls city council members say there's a better way to build an events center, and it's not included in the plan that goes to the voters in less than two weeks from now
Greg Jamison and Vernon Brown are offering up "Ten Things You Should Know Before You Vote November 8th."
Jamison and Brown say next month's election really boils down to funding priorities for the city. They say paying for a $115 million events center with the 2nd penny sales tax will essentially max-out that revenue source, meaning other projects like streets, parks and libraries won't get built. The two council members are offering their own payment plan. And even though an events center has been debated for years, Brown and Jamison say time is still on the city's side to make the right choice.
Vernon Brown and Greg Jamison say rather than borrow all of the money to build an events center and saddling the city with years of debt, the city council should instead set aside money each year for a down payment.
"It may take us a few years, I don't know, to save up enough money as a 10 or 15 percent down payment. But that will also give us the time to prospect and sell the naming rights to all of our existing venues," Jamison said.
Naming rights are an important funding source in Jamison and Brown's proposal to eventually make all city-run facilities, from the Pavilion to the arena self-sustaining. That way, the city can show taxpayers that an events center can also pay for itself.
"With an events center, it's being said that it's going to be profitable operationally. I've been very clear that I don't believe that's going to be the case. None of our other city venues are. So let's prove it to the voters that the existing ones can be and then move forward and give voters that confidence," Brown said.
Brown and Jamison want the city's entertainment tax, not the 2nd penny sales tax, to pay for the events center.
"Those entertainment taxes today are paying for the Pavilion and the convention center and I think the public supports that effort because it's not coming from the existing 2nd penny sales tax revenue," Jamison said.
Both Jamison and Brown say under their plan, construction of an events center would be put off years down the road. But they say it will be worth the wait to taxpayers.
"Is it going to take more time under a different plan? Absolutely. But I've been saying from the start of this, let's take our time. This is the biggest decision Sioux Falls has ever made. That warrants the time to do it right," Brown said.
Brown and Jamison's plan would replace the arena with an events center. But the proposal being voted on next month keeps the arena in play. Brown and Jamison say that places the city in the counter-productive position of competing with itself in booking events at both sites and paying for operating costs at each facility.