UWEC student senate argues against building funding vote

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - U.W. Eau Claire student representatives spoke out against the proposed charter ordinance that could affect funding for the confluence project after an Apr. vote.

The Eau Claire city council approved putting a charter ordinance on an Apr. ballot that will ask voters whether a binding referendum should be required before the city is able to spend more than $1 million to fund arts-related buildings like the confluence project.

The UW Eau Claire Student Senate responded Thursday, saying the wording is unclear, fearing that future projects that aren't primarily used for arts, could be included on that list.

“So we basically have a question going to voters who have to try to understand this confusing legal language means and what it would do in the future,” Student Senate intergovernmental affairs director Jake Wrasse said.

He said he supports the Confluence project but that forcing the public to make decisions on more proposed projects, takes away the duties meant for the city council.

“The city council has been elected to oversee city affairs. And if they have to go to a city wide vote that prolongs action every time they spend over a million dollars on something that may be included in this ordinance that slows down the ability of the government to function. And it puts an undue burden on the citizenry to try to understand the breadth and depth of these issues.”

But Citizens Referendum Committee chairman, Mike Bollinger said that's the reason for the Apr. vote.

“What I was promoting more than anything is that we have an opportunity to vote,” Bollinger said.

“The number of signatures we were able to garner in 30 days represents more than the total number of votes that any particular city council member got at any particular time.”

“This is intended to create a conversation. It's intended to create answers for a lot of the questions that need to be asked. And it's important that Eau Claire makes the decision for themselves.”
Here is the question and statement in their entirety:
Statement: This charter ordinance would require approval, through a binding referendum submitted to the voters of the City of Eau Claire, for spending $1,000,000 or more prior to the start of any physical construction of any municipally financed project which includes a building planned for dramatic, musical, or artistic performances. This would apply to spending any funds of the city, or any entity created by the city, whether those funds account for all or part of the project cost. The wording of any referendum must provide the specific purpose, location and cost of the project and an estimate of operating costs which will be provided by the city or a city entity. If the binding referendum fails, neither the city nor any city entity could proceed with that project. However the charter ordinance would not prohibit the city from exercising its role in the planning and design of such publicly financed projects.

Question: “Shall a charter ordinance be enacted to require a referendum to approve spending $1,000,000 or more in funds of the City, or any entity created by the City, for construction of a building project planned for dramatic, musical, or artistic performances?”