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What's Not Paid If Arena Funded?

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Proposed Arena
RALEIGH — Revenue from the Wake County hotel-motel taxis being considered as a source of funding for a proposed arena inRaleigh. Some officials say that would provide ample funding, but thequestion arises: What would gounfunded?

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

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

Some of the projects are already under construction and some will bepaid 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 thehotel-motel tax umbrella.

Even after the current five projects are funded and arena paymentsstart, there would, according to Boutwell, likely be a surplus for use onother 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 ofthat, he says, is based on revenue projections.

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

Hotel-motel tax is collected at a rate of 1 percent on every mealeaten 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 hastaken many turns along the way. A final decision from City Councilconcerning is expected at Tuesday night's councilmeeting.