Explaining the Expansion | VideoRetha Colclasure | 11/2/2012
A $90 million update to the Bismarck Civic Center may sound expensive. But Bismarck leaders say years and years of studies show it`s not just worth it, it`s necessary.
"We`re in the middle of a tremendous business surge. We should take advantage of it. Bismarck should position itself so going into the future we can capitalize on all the business opportunities that are there. We aren`t doing that with this facility," said EpiCenter Committee Co-Chair Bill Shalhoob.
They say right now, the center can`t attract the kind of meetings and conventions it could, if it had more meeting space, an all purpose room, and better technology.
"The demand is as a result of all the things that would be available if we had the proper facility," Shalhoob said.
But for any of those updates or additions to happen, voters have to first approve an increase in the hospitality tax. The 1.5 percent increase on prepared food and alcohol and 2.5 percent increase on hotel rooms would raise most of the money for the expansion.
"Of the three funding mechanisms we have, property tax, sales tax and visitors tax, that is the one in our judgment most palatable to citizens," said mayor John Warford.
He says most of the tax will be paid for by out-of-state visitors. And while those dining out in their own city might notice a small increase on their tab-
"If you spend $1,000, it`ll be $15."
He says in return, they can have a sense of civic pride, and be part of creating a projected $26 to $31 million annual economic impact in the community.
The hospitality tax would automatically expire after 20 years, or after the debt is paid off, whichever comes first.