This is the fifth of five questions the six mayoral candidates answered for Racine County Eye. We’ll have a round up and voter guide Friday.
The primary election will be held Sept. 19. The two candidates with the most votes will then be on the ballot for the special election on Oct. 17.
Their answers were submitted to Racine County Eye and lightly edited. Last week we highlighted their biographical information.
What is your stance on the hotel and convention center and why?
Some candidates lukewarm on hotel, event cent project
It’s not in my agenda to push for the convention center unless it’s brewing with outside funding and has an indoor Olympic size swimming pool with a 24hr. arcade for gamers.
Obviously this is a sensitive topic, as Mayor, my response is that I would support any project that would increase our tax base and would provide family living wages.
As of now, the only thing that has happened is several million (dollars) spent on Machinery Row, that we may or may not recoup, our state tax credits for that project we are in jeopardy of losing, the event center right now has a price tag of $55 Million dollars with no guarantee that it will be a sustainable venture. Could it be a good idea, maybe but not at this time.
My stance on that project has been clearly stated many times, but I am happy to repeat it here. That project, or any similar project, is not an appropriate use of taxpayer money and I will veto it when I am Mayor unless it is clearly the will of the citizens to build it.
If they demonstrate through a referendum that they strongly support pushing public debt to what I consider an economically dangerous level, I will do my best to implement their wishes. But people should clearly understand that I do not endorse that strategy and they may prefer to vote for some candidate who does. If there are private developers who are willing to commit their own money to this project, I will be happy to work with them. Until they identify themselves, there are much more important issues I intend to address.
The convention center/arena does not have the support it needs to move forward. The plan calls for the county to put in resources, a private benefactor to buy naming rights, and a hotel developer to be identified. To date, none of that has happened. The plan also calls for public support. I can tell you from talking to thousands of voters at their doors, public opposition to the convention center/arena is high. Without the financing to pay for it or the public support to get behind it, we should not move this proposal forward. I want Racine to do smart economic development projects. But they must be well thought out and reflect the community’s needs.
The citizens should vote on it and understand the debt the city carries and what this will add to it.
Overall, I oppose it. Still I respect the citizens voice and they should vote on it. The citizens should also understand how much debt the city is in and the impact of this convention center.
I am not for the hotel and convention center but I am for smart development and I don’t believe this is smart development right now based on the numbers from the last study. I believe the convention center and hotel are ill timed and will be an irresponsible use of taxpayer dollars.
As a pastor when I am faced with the thought of building to expand our worship center there has to be a necessity for the expansion and the resources to pay for it without incurring more debt than what can be paid down. I considered expanding once before and the formula I used to expand our worship center was first we had to fill the sanctuary 3 times a Sunday for at least three Sundays a month for three consecutive years and the income had to exceed our expenses and we had to be debt free.
We have not built yet because that hasn’t happened. The city does not fill up the Festival Hall, nor the Memorial Hall and they have been underutilized and our budget is already tight and we still are paying off the debt from these facilities and they have operated in the red more times than them breaking even or profiting.