City council discusses Haymarket Arena funding

The City of Lincoln voted “yes” on May 11th for a new Haymarket Arena and now the city council will vote on how we're going to pay for it.

When the results came in on primary night, many thought it was a done deal when it came to paying for it, but actually the city council needs to approve some of the big items, like the occupation tax.

The city council opened its doors to public opinion Monday night to get feedback on that tax, which will help pay for about half of the project.  Not one person showed up to the hearing. 

Arena Coordinator Dan Marvin says, “what turns people out is sometimes surprising.  This was well advertised, we had an election.  This goes back to last fall where we clearly laid out what our intent was.”

The occupation tax will tack on a 2% tax to your restaurant and bar tabs and will increase your hotel and car rental bills by 4%.  The council will vote on the tax in two weeks.  Councilmen are pretty optimistic it'll pass. Council Chair John Spatz says, “nobody likes increased taxes but at least it's going to something we're going to be able to see.  We'll see the progress, we're going to be able to go to it in a few years.”

Spatz says this is the first of many more decisions they, along with the Joint Public Agency, will be making.  “There are going to be a lot of big votes here in the near future that we're going to have to get through to make this arena a reality.”

Marvin anticipates it will take between 30–35 years at most to pay off the arena.  As soon as that happens, the tax will go away.

The tax will go into effect the first of next year, if passed.