It is regrettable that we need to look at the dream like Confluence Project through the cold facts of economics. As taxpayers we have to do so. The Project is projected to cost $ 88 million just to build. Commonweal is asking the state for $55 million. As a resident of Wisconsin, I am going to have to pay part of this. Commonweal is asking the county for $ 5 million. As a resident of the county, I am going to have to pay part of this. Commonweal is asking the city for $ 10 million. As a resident of the city, I am going to have to pay part of this. As a taxpayer so will you. This is only the beginning of the cost the city will be asked to contribute. Commonweal is asking the city to commit to further yearly funds to cover a portion of the upkeep on the community theatre. They hope to get these additional funds through room taxes collected. But what if the room taxes do not cover this additional expense? Where will the funds come from? A portion of the cities initial investment ($ 10 million) they will be looking at removing the old buildings now in the way of the Project. Considering when these buildings were built will there be issues with their removal that have to be taken into account such as lead paint, mold, asbestos, etc. I believe there are rules involved when disposing of these types of materials. Has this been figured into the cities total amount? The city will also be responsible for the walkway bridge and the underground parking lot plus other improvements to the property. This all adds up. There remain several unanswered questions. We as taxpayers deserve to know the answers. As WE will be paying the bill.
The old buildings on the present site of the proposed Confluence Project site are on the tax roll. Once these buildings are removed and the Confluence Project is completed, will the dorm and the theatre be placed on the tax roll? This will all depend on who becomes the final title holder of these buildings. At this point we have not been told who that will be.
What if the theatre doesn’t make a profit or falls into financial need? What will happen? Will the taxpayers have to pitch in to help it stay in business? How much will the ticket for the shows cost? Will I/we be able to afford to go to a show?
These are all items that need to be considered. I feel that we deserve answers to these questions before we commit our hard earned tax dollars to this Project. As taxpayers let’s get out there and attend public meetings, contact your city council representatives before it’s too late.
President of the Eau Claire Historic Preservation Foundation