The City Council passed a new tax on hotel rooms earlier this month that will be collected beginning January 1, 2011. The City is collecting the tax but has no plan on how to use the money? You pass a tax with no plan on it's use?? Sounds very backwards to me.
As I recall, the discussions surrounding this hotel tax centered on a stated objective that this room tax was to provide working revenue to the Convention and Visitors Bureau to woo visitors and conventions to Sioux Falls. I thought that was the plan. I think it is ironic that one of the ideas is to use the money to shuttle people from the convention center to local businesses. That idea alone is indicative of the problem with adding an Event Center to the Arena/Convention Center site.
Mayor Huether has his own ideas on how the money should be utilized. In today's ARGUS LEADER he says, "I think we should think outside of the box as much as possible to again spur on economic development opportunities for Sioux Falls and drive people into our great city. One of the things that has also been discussed, even before it was approved, is to utilize some of that money for the event center as well." I don't recall that use being discussed when it was being considered for a vote by the City Council. That idea sounds like a round about way to get around the SD Legislature but then I am no legal expert.
I happen to agree with Paul Hegg and David Sweet. Use the money to promote the city, tell our story and get more people to Sioux Falls. That is the job of the Convention and Business Bureau. That is what Terri Ellis Schmidt is supposed to be doing with those dollars. This is what Councilor Entenmen used as his platform to get this tax passed.
Councilor Entenmen is right in that this tax is going to be a great tool for the City. The Mayor is going to appoint members to a board that will decide how the money will be used. Any budget developed has to be approved the Mayor and City Council. Let's hope that the City Council does not allow this tax to be used to fund an Event Center and that it's original purpose remains the main purpose - to woo visitors and conventions to Sioux Falls.