- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Hutchinson residents may soon be able to vote on a proposed sales tax that would help fund a $29 million expansion of the city’s 62-year-old sports arena.

A committee of community leaders asked the City Council on Tuesday to put the tax increase up for a public vote in April.

The council didn’t vote on the request but will discuss it at least one more time in January, The Hutchinson News (https://bit.ly/13ar45m ) reported. The council agreed to let city staff begin drafting a ballot resolution for the group’s consideration.

“The (steering) committee has done a tremendous amount of work and brought back some interesting things,” Mayor Cindy Proett said. “I didn’t foresee anything like this. I’m much more excited, and I hope we can move forward.”

The steering committee was formed after National Junior College Athletic Association executive director Mary Ellen Leicht asked if the city had any plans for capital improvements at the arena. Absent plans for improvements, the association has said it may seek bids from other cities to host the national junior college basketball tournament, which has been held in the city for more than 50 years.

Among the planned updates are replacing plumbing, electrical and heating systems; adding air conditioning for the first time; and creating more seating for people with disabilities. Plans also call for more restrooms, concession stands, meeting rooms and two new practice gyms.

The proposed renovations would be financed largely by a 0.35 to 0.4 percent increase in the city’s sales tax for about 10 years, or until bonds are paid off. A 0.35 percent increase is expected to generate more than $3 million a year. Hutchinson Community College, whose teams play at the arena, said it would contribute $500,000 a year for nine years.

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Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, https://www.hutchnews.com


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