City Council hears public ahead of direct legislation vote

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Members of the Eau Claire City Council are weighing their options ahead of a vote on whether voters should have a say in public funding of certain building projects.

Monday night a public discussion was held ahead of a vote Tuesday night by the city council on what is known as Direct Legislation.

Direct Legislation would give voters the power to make decisions on city projects, like the Confluence Project, as opposed to city leaders.

The projects would have to include $1,000,000 or more in taxpayer funding. Right now, the city council has the authority to approve spending that money.

Tuesday City Council members will vote on one of two options. The first option would be for the City Council to directly adopt a referendum submitted by a group known as the Citizens Referendum Committee.

The second option would be to ask voters whether or not the city should put the referendum on a future ballot.

“It’s really a question about governance. So it’s not a question about the Confluence Project. It's a question of how do we proceed on future projects pertaining to arts and performing arts. So it would have a much wider impact than just this project,” City Manager Russ Van Gompel said.

“It’s something that I think is appropriate for our community as we start to decide what we are going to look like 30, 40, or 50 years from now. It’s an appropriate mechanism for the community to weigh in on our future,” Mike Bollinger Chair of the Citizens Referendum Committee said.

The Eau Claire City Attorney, Steve Nick, and the Eau Claire City Manager say that in order for a question to make it to the ballot in time for the spring referendum the city council would have to make a decision at its meeting Tuesday.

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