Their goal is to make sure voters can make an informed decision on the current events center proposal. Both are concerned that key pieces of information are not being fairly presented to voters.
1. This Vote is About Funding Priorities – streets, fire stations, parks, libraries, transit OR an events center. Whatever we spend on an events center’s principle and interest payment is money that will NOT go to future streets, fire stations, parks, libraries or the transit system because the events center will be funded from the same limited source – our second penny sales tax. It’s also concerning that there’s no fund identified to pay for the ongoing maintenance of the facility.
2. Consider What Cuts You Would Make - If Sioux Falls built the events center five years ago and we started making the full loan payments of $9 million, we would need to cut some of the projects we’re completing this year. For example we would have had to consider cutting projects such as:
· 10th & Cliff intersection for $1.8 million
· 41st street overlay for $1 million
· Reconstruction of 57th to Tea Ellis road for $2.5 million
· And reconstruction of River Boulevard for $3 million
3. Construction Costs Are Going up on All Projects – It’s not just the events center price tag that will go up. The cost of all critical city construction projects is likely to go up. So again it comes back to priorities for Sioux Falls. What investments do you want us to make right now.
4. No New Taxes for Events Center Because We Can’t - Like almost all South Dakota cities, Sioux Falls is at the maximum tax level allowed by state law. We can’t raise taxes because it’s against the law. All the money is coming from one source - the 2nd penny sales tax we’ve reserved for streets, fire stations, libraries, transit and other projects.
5. We’re Not Replacing the Arena - The Arena stays in play. The events center is an additional building at that complex, but there is no new planned re-use of the existing Arena. We will be competing with ourselves and will have to maintain both venues with taxpayer dollars. Plus, we have identified critical improvements to the Arena, but not identified funding to take care of it.
6. The Parking Plan Doesn’t Consider Multiple Events – The plan does not consider simultaneous events at the events center, Arena, Convention Center, Pheasants Stadium and Howard Wood Field. The parking plan is designed for a single event at the events center.
7. How Will Sioux Falls Pay For Population Growth – Experts predict our city will grow at the rate of three-thousand people a year – that’s 8 people a day. That means more houses, streets, fire stations, libraries, parks and other infrastructure will be needed – much of which is funded out of the second penny sales tax. But the plan is counting on sales tax growth paying for the evenst center debt for the next 22 years. Plus we have Master Plans for Falls Park, the River Greenway and the zoo and there’s not enough funding in the Capital Improvement Plan to complete those plans.
8. We’re Borrowing 100% of the Money – Construction costs will be $115 million, but we will have to borrow $125 million to cover the issuance cost of bonds. We will be borrowing every dime of it – no down payment. It also means we’ll be paying $60 to $70 million in interest expense.
9. We Do Not Have One Tenant Signed – Not one semi-pro athletic team has signed an agreement to use the facility. And if they do, that means the Arena loses rent. Now the primary tenants are identified as big conventions, conferences, and tradeshows. In 2010 these events represented only 16 percent of the event mix of the convention center.
10. We Can Create a Better Plan – November 8th is not your last chance for an event center. If you decide you’re not comfortable with $125 million dollars of debt, we can work together to create a more affordable plan for Sioux Falls so you can comfortably vote YES. Jamison and Brown offer two ideas.
· Arena Replacement Fund - The Council could set aside money each year to build up to a 10 to 15 percent down payment on our entertainment venue to help lower interest expense.
· Strive to make existing subsidized entertainment venues self sustaining - Work with the Arena, Pavilion, Zoo, Orpheum Theater and Convention Center to acquire naming rights so tax dollars don’t subsidize them. Then we can be honest with voters by saying we can build a self sustaining event center in Sioux Falls.
· And then once the Pavilion and Convention Center are paid off and self sustaining the Entertainment Tax could help fund construction of a future events center.
Jamison and Brown tell voters not to let anyone convince them they’re not progressive or not supporting Sioux Falls’ future just because they can’t comfortably say yes to this vote. It’s OK to say they want a better plan.