After a couple weeks of controversy, a community meeting was held on Tuesday evening to discuss Proposition A on the ballot, addressing the funding for the new Lubbock County Exposition Center and whether or not it should be in the November election.
That proposition proposes ro raise the hotel occupancy tax by 2% to fund a 50 million dollar bond. Tim Collins, a member of the steering committee said another 10 million dollars will be raised by private donors to support operational fees.
After the coliseum is demolished, events like the ABC rodeo will not have a venue. Tim Collins, a member of the steering committee for the Expo Center said this must be voted on now, in or else the city risks losing money later.
“We don’t have an answer for the rodeo, for other types of events that use dirt floors… We have 6.3 million visitors in our city ever year that helps our retailers, our restaurants, our hotels,” he said.
Members who opposed the proposition on this ballot worried about the timing and oversight of the project.
“I know they talked about builder risk that can hold it at that 50 million but if they start having increases in materials or availability to fuels and that gets pushed back, then we lose what we were promised in the original rendering… If they want to do this I have to see some type of safety net in there,” said Chad Seay, candidate for County Commissioner Precinct Four.
The committee said no tax payer dollars will be used in this project. Any funds coming from hotel occupancy tax have to go toward event venues. The committee said they will place a contingency in their contract with the construction company to ensure the project does not go overbudget.
“They will not be allowed to let the project run over. They bonded a certain amount of money and if we build anything bigger than that, it will have to come from private donation,” said Jason Corley, who originally opposed voting so early on the proposition.
The project will be run by a private entity, a non-profit. This raised another concern about who would oversee the Expo Center.
“I can also say that the board has agreed to allow the commissioners court to chose the nominees for their board,” said Corley. This would keep decision making in the hands of the voters, he said.
The planning of the Expo Center has happened in a matter of months, leaving people like Seay concerned that this quick action could lead to unforeseen mistakes later. If the proposition is pushed back until next year, he believes it gives them more time to make concrete decisions regarding location, budget, and oversight.
“I’m kind of torn between that because are we going to potentially risk $300,000 to potentially save millions in the future, or are we going to let it go and hope for the best,” said Seay.
“We are losing our facility. We are going to subject ourselves to losing our ABC Rodeo date and that affects the Boys and Girls Clubs of Lubbock because that donates over $300,000 each year,” said Collins.
If the vote is not passed, a special election will be held next year on the matter.