(ABC 6 News) — Rochester officials have been working on the Mayo Civic Center expansion for years. In the coming weeks, legislators will vote on this year’s bonding bill.
Among the hundreds of proposed projects is the civic center expansion, but the state is only expected to pay for half.
The rest would have to come from Rochester itself. On Tuesday city officials held a town hall meeting to hear the public’s input.
“It’s a large project. It’s a $77.1 million project,” Brad Jones of the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau explains.
Bonding would pay for $35 million of that cost. The rest would come from local sources. Originally the plan was to increase the sales taxes on both restaurants and hotels by 1%.
However, the latest plan would only affect the hotels, but would increase the tax by 3%.
That simple tax change was made in order to take some of this tax responsibility off of the residents and put it on some of the visitors to Rochester.
The thought process is since they’re the ones using it, they should be the ones to pay for it. Despite these changes, the plan received constant scrutiny from a handful of residents.
“You tell us how wonderful this is going to be, but there is the other side,” one resident says.
But for every opponent, a supporter quickly responded.
“I don’t want to see the money go to Duluth. I don’t want to see it go to St. Cloud. You have the opportunity to take the money here like the gentleman said. It’s bonding money. There’s going to be money coming from hotels. I think you got an excellent opportunity here,” another resident explained.
The expansion was also getting support from many hotel, restaurant and bar owners. Many say the civic center expansion is worth the investment.
Tuesday’s public input session was only the first of two town hall meetings the city has planned. The 2nd will take place March 6th at 6:00 PM.