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May 24, 2011 05:35 PM

Events Center Election Date Up For Debate

Sioux Falls, SD


As the Sioux Falls City Council moves closer to voting on a location for the events center, the debate over when to hold a vote on an events center is getting started.

Some on the council want to wait and put it on the ballot for the presidential election in 2012; the mayor wants it this November. 

"If we were to set a special election in 2011, our voter turnout is going to be slim to none. It will be skewed toward a negative vote, and we don't have the budget for it," council member Michelle Erpenbach said.

Council members are concerned that a special city election this November will have a low turnout. That's why council members like Vernon Brown want to wait until 2012.

"We know in a really good city election, you get 30 percent. In a presidential election, you get twice as many, more than twice as many, 70 percent. Why wouldn't we want the most voters at the polls?" Brown said.

"I told them that I'd try to get this on the ballot by November of 2011 and that's what I'm working with the city council to do," Mayor Mike Huether said.

Huether wants an election on the events center sooner rather than later so the city can start cashing in on the complex.

"I think the time to build the events center was probably five or six years ago, and every year we wait is just another year of missed opportunity. It's another year that's going to cost us even more to build it some day. It's just another year we won't reap the rewards of that critical investment," Huether said.

But a special election would cost the city up to $45,000. Putting the events center question on the presidential ballot would be around $5,000. Some on the council fear they'd be spending thousands of dollars on a failed election if they held it this fall. 

"My hesitation in all of this has been, I think some of you feel the same way, is that this will fail in November of '11. Our wish is not to have it fail. So what can we do along the way to make it succeed," council member Greg Jamison said. 

That's the $100 million question facing the city council.
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