Eau Claire County Board approves $3.5 million Confluence Project pledge

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- It has been approved. By a 21-5 vote, the Eau Claire County Board of Supervisors made a decision on Tuesday night to pledge 3.5 million dollars toward the Confluence Project.

The discussion included comments and questions from the public, board supervisors and representatives of the Confluence Project.

The public first had the chance to weigh in. For 30 minutes, around a dozen people offered diverse opinions, ranging from support to concern.

The discussion then turned to the county board. It questioned whether the project was a good investment, the money trail, the effects of lowering the pledge amount and whether people in rural Eau Claire County have had the opportunity to let their voices be heard.

In the end, the final vote was 21-5 in support of pledging the money -- but there are some strings attached or contingencies.

The board voted to add a contingent referendum to the pledge. That means Eau Claire County voters will see a question on the ballot this spring asking whether they want the county to spend $3.5 million dollars on the project.

Voters need to approve that for the pledge to go through. In addition, the state needs to kick in $25 million dollars and another $20 million dollars needs to come from the city and private donations.

"There's really a burden put on the philanthropic community -- individuals and businesses stepping forward to commit funding to this project," said Board Chairman Gregg Moore.

He says he feels a lot can be accomplished when the community and university work together.

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