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2128, 04 Jan 18

Fox Cities Exhibition Center in Trouble

It looks like the municipalities involved can’t all agree on a funding plan.

So far, only Appleton, Menasha and Sherwood have signed the agreement. Kimberly approved the agreement on Nov. 6 but later rescinded it unanimously on Nov. 20.

Should the agreement not be signed by each of the 10 communities, Appleton has two options: It uses its full amount of room taxes toward the $31 million exhibition center and not other projects, or the city could sue other municipalities for breach of contract, Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna said.

“At what point does a legal agreement mean a legal agreement?” Hanna told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin after the meeting. “We don’t want to go down that path, we don’t want to go down that path at all (of the two options if the agreements aren’t signed), and they know we don’t want to go down that path so they think they can just leverage that.

“These agreements are built on trust, and obviously, there’s no trust.”

In 2015, 10 communities agreed to set aside a portion of their room taxes collected from hotel and motel guests to pay back loans taken out for the exhibition center. However, Appleton officials are still working to negotiate a financing plan with local banks, while other stakeholders say they prefer to use traditional revenue bonds for the financing plan.

Until a financing plan is established, Appleton has been dipping into its cash reserves to pay for the exhibition center.

In addition to his concerns about the financing plan, Kaufert said that the nine other communities that are putting in room tax dollars should have more say in the project.


2128, 04 January 2018


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