Local News

What's Not Paid If Arena Funded?

Posted February 3, 1997

— Revenue from the Wake County hotel-motel tax is being considered as a source of funding for a proposed arena in Raleigh. Some officials say that would provide ample funding, but the question arises: What would gounfunded?

Some city council members who have been against using those funds for the arena are reportedly now promising to support the idea, according to WRAL-TV5's Mark Robers. But many people are asking what was planned for that money before the arena debate began.

One recipient of some hotel-motel funds has been the North Carolina Natural Sciences Museum, which is under construction in downtown Raleigh. In addition, the tax money has been earmarked as support for the Exploris Children's Museum, a new soccer facility, and improvements to Five County Stadium, where the minor league Mudcats play, and to Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium.

Some of the projects are already under construction and some will be paid for by the time bills would start coming in for the arena.

Wake County Budget Director Raymond Boutwell says increasing the size of the proposed arena will not affect the other programs under the hotel-motel tax umbrella.

Even after the current five projects are funded and arena payments start, there would, according to Boutwell, likely be a surplus for use on other projects. In the year 2000, for example, he projects a surplus of $6.7 million. In 2001, we could see a surplus of $8.5 million. All of that, he says, is based on revenue projections.

The proposed arena has also been designated as a recipient of those funds, even before talk of a National Hockey League franchise ignited the recent debate over whether or not to increase the size of the planned arena.

Hotel-motel tax is collected at a rate of 1 percent on every meal eaten in a Wake County restaurant. When a hotel or motel room is rented, a 6 percent tax is added to the price.

The arena and funding controversy has been going on for months and has taken many turns along the way. A final decision from City Council concerning is expected at Tuesday night's council meeting.

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