Public weighs in on Confluence Project funding

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)- People from around Eau Claire got their chance to weigh in on city funding for the mixed use building portion of the Confluence Project Monday night.

A vote Tuesday night would determine whether or not the city would pledge more than $5-million toward the mixed used building before it knows whether or not the performing arts building has received all funding necessary for it to be built.

“No one knows how fast the state is going to act on funding this thing. They could act today, they could act tomorrow,” city council member Bob Von Haden said.

Von Haden says the city is still waiting for the state to make a final decision whether or not it will provide $25-million toward the performing arts center portion of the project.

Not knowing for sure whether the state will pay into the project is just one reason why Von Haden and fellow council member Dave Duax are proposing the city hold off on providing more than $5-million toward the mixed use building portion of the project until the city knows for sure that the performing arts building will move forward.

“I think it’s important for us not to give any money to the dorm until we have the performing arts center committed then we can make the decision how much to contribute to the project,” Von Haden said.

For taxpayers who weighed in at the public hearing, the thought of the city chipping in for a privately owned building has them concerned.

“I would like to ask the city council explain why it is right to contribute to the cost of a building that is going to be owned by a private party,” Pete Bartl said in his remarks before the council.

Jane Way-Riley says, “I don't think the tax payers are jumping up and down to subsidize private enterprise. I think its opening up a can of worms because if the city gives Haymarket Concepts money then how many other developers are going to raise their hands and say they want to be subsidized also?”

City council members will vote on the resolution at its legislative meeting at 4 PM Tuesday.

If approved, the city would not move forward with funding the mixed use building until at least 2015.

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