In two months, Sioux Falls voters will head to the polls to decide the fate of a $115 million events center. Since the city council voted to put the issue to a public vote, the plan has received a lot of support. Mayor Mike Huether says concerns over how to pay for it are unnecessary
Huether knows the most contentious topic surrounding the proposed events center is how to pay for it. He says the time is now.
"We can do it without raising taxes and without creating brand new taxes," Huether said.
Huether said that can happen by spending responsibly, and that future sales tax projections show borrowing the building's entire $115 million price tag can be done while managing expansion of city services as the city expands. The mayor says the building will make the city money.
"I'll look at you with a straight face and say, you bet it will. And who will reap the rewards? The people of Sioux Falls will," Huether said.
People do favor the new building. Fifty percent of those asked in our KELO-TV/Argus Leader Poll said they want it built. The number dropped slightly when we asked the same group whether they want to borrow all the money to pay for it.
Huether said the building will create jobs and increase tax revenues city-wide. And operations costs will come from private enterprise money.
"We wanted to say, 'here's how much it's gonna cost.' We believe the right thing to do is borrow the money right now, especially with interest rates as low as they are," he said.
Huether points out that the city has been studying a facility for more than ten years with input meetings and feasibility studies. He says concerns that asking voters to turn out for the November special election doesn't give enough time to get the message out, is not the right message.
"They don't want posturing. They don't want politics. They want progress right now and go forward. Let's have open and honest conversation and let's let the people decide," he said.
Huether still expects private industry to generate up to $2 million each year and said that would help pay to operate the building. The special election is set for November 8.