Convention Center Funding Top Priority - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR - Andrea Morrow Reports

Convention Center Funding Top Priority

JULY 7, 2005 - Posted at 10:00 p.m. CDT

Jonesboro, AR -You can see the site, but the money still isn’t tangible yet. Wallace Fowler with the Jonesboro Economic Development Corporation says Jonesboro is the only city in Arkansas “that doesn’t have a convention center, and that’s going to cost money.”

The city council, mayor and county judge will be in charge of funding ten and a half million of the 14 million dollar convention center. City leaders are looking at John Q. Hammons properties in other cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma and Springfield, Missouri for reference in developing a funding strategy.

However, city officials in Tulsa and hotel officials in Springfield tell K-8 News the development of both city’s convention centers was privately funded by Hammons, and both are privately owned and operated.

So far, the city’s brainstormed two ways, among others, to come up with the funding for a convention center – raising the hotel tax and declaring the hotel and convention center a TIF district.

 

The TIF option is similar to what was used to fund the Mall at Turtle Creek. The tax money that would have gone to school districts and the city will instead be used to pay off the building costs of the property. City Council Finance Committee member, Darrell Dover, says tax is another option. “There’s some form of taxes you can look at, whether it be a hotel tax or something of that nature,” says Dover.

 

Jonesboro’s current hotel room tax is at one percent compared to Little Rock’s one half percent. Memphis is at 1.7 percent, while Hot Springs’ city hotel tax is five percent. Jonesboro’s city council can raise its hotel sales tax to three percent without a referendum, and city leaders say that would give them an additional one million dollars a year to pay for convention costs. A city council meeting happens at noon on Friday to discuss more funding options.

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