Exhibition Center Cost to Appleton Taxpayers (Part 2) / by Tom Roessler

Financial Fiasco:  Inability to secure bond financing for the construction of the Exhibition center resulted in Appleton draining its reserves to pay for the construction. Read on to learn more…

On March 4th, 2015 the Appleton Common Council passed an agreement stating that Appleton will pay Outagamie County $2 million for a site on West Lawrence Street — across from Radisson Paper Valley Hotel — on which the downtown exhibition center would be built. The money, plus some infrastructure work, was to be the city's primary investment in the project.  The agreement that the common council passed was contingent on several conditions:

·       An agreement with the Radisson hotel for the management of the center.

·      Securing bond financing to pay for the construction of the center.

·       Raising room taxes in the Fox Cities to repay the bonds. (APC 3-22-15)

Fast forward to January 2018 one week before the exhibition center was to open.  Nearly three years had passed without securement of bond funding for the exhibition center construction which was a pivotal condition of the original agreement.  Instead of securing the bond financing for the construction of the exhibition center the city of Appleton was paying for the construction ($26.8 million at that point) out of the city reserves which resulted in a loss of interest for the city of Appleton of $285,130.   On January 27th 2018 the Finance Committee recommended the Common Council approve a resolution to ask each of the 10 municipalities to pay back the lost interest through room tax revenues.  A deal struck by 10 municipalities to use regional room tax proceeds to recoup $285,130 in lost interest income on money the city spent to front the construction costs of the $31.5 million exhibition center. (APC 3-25-18)