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Commissioners Approve Convention Center Land Purchase

A unanimous vote by the Monroe County Commissioners has authorized use of the county’s innkeeper’s tax to purchase land for an expanded convention center.

A vacant lot across College Avenue from the existing convention center cleared a legal hurdle Friday morning, winning approval by a three-nothing vote to become the future home of an expanded facility.  Convention Center Authority Director Talisha Coppock said the vote is a relief, but just the beginning of a longer process.

“It’s been years of looking for opportunity to be able to expand the convention center,” she said.  “The demand is there – we can see it.  And we’re starting to see a light at the end of the rainbow.”

Friday’s vote allocates almost $2 million a year in innkeeper’s tax revenue to buying the land, but does not collect the cash necessary to build on the site.  Still, Commissioners President Pat Stoffers said he believes it’s the best use of revenue from the levy.

“I suppose there’s a body of thought that says you could just take the innkeeper’s tax and throw it in the general fund as an unrestricted flow of revenue.  On the other hand, taking that money and applying it to something that’s rationally related to the collection of it makes sense.  Certainly it makes sense to me.”

The purchase of four acres of land is estimated to cost about $5.3 million.

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