Local News

Cary Asks For Tax Revenue To Fund Proposed Aquatics Center

Posted August 30, 2004 5:59 a.m. EDT

— Each year, officials claim the hotel/motel and the food and beverage taxes bring in a combined $21 million. Most of the money is set aside for Raleigh's new convention center and the RBC Center, but some money is left over every year. One town wants to use that money for fund its proposed aquatic center.

Cary Mayor Ernie McAlister told city officials Monday that the town is willing to chip in $15 million for the proposed aquatic center. He is asking city officials for another $15 million from the county's hotel/motel tax.

"This is clearly a project that will bring a number of people into the area and serve the purpose of tourism," McAlister said.

"It's very's big in Wake County. It's growing except we are at a wall where there is no more capacity," said Hill Carrow, who supports the facility.

The proposed aquatics project would have five pools.

"But to be able to create a facility where we are able to draw and attract events, to be a community facility, that's what this money is intended for, and why it's important," Carrow said.

Cary and Morrisville officials said a third of the revenue generated from the hotel/motel tax and more than a quarter of the funds generated by restaurants come from facilities in western Wake County.

"We feel like it's right and appropriate to reinvest some of those funds in the communities in which they originated, and this is a chance to do that," McAlister said.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker argues Cary residents get the benefit of the funds spent on the RBC center and those dedicated to Raleigh's new convention center. He said his priority is to determine which of the 18 projects will bring the most visitors and tourism dollars to Wake County.

However, Meeker admits an aquatics center could be a big draw.

"I think it's a very strong candidate. It'll be important to see how the county ranks it, but the city is going to be looking at that very carefully," he said.

Four of the five county commissioners listed Cary's Aquatic Center as one of their top priorities. The other projects that ranked high were the Museum of Art and the Museum of Natural Sciences.

Raleigh city councilmembers will discuss the issue over the next couple of weeks and then get together with commissioners to decide who gets what.