Visitor Center Cost Concerns Lubbock City Councilman - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/27/08

Visitor Center Cost Concerns Lubbock City Councilman

In a six to one vote Thursday, the Lubbock City Council approved plans for a multi-million dollar visitor information center.

Councilman Todd Klein was the only member to vote "no" during the meeting. Council approved the bid process, and hired a company to provide architectural and engineering services, but Klein was not the only councilman to voice concerns about the cost of this project.

The estimated $6.7-million price tag also concerned Councilman John Leonard, but he still voted in favor of the new visitor's center. Supporters say the costs will be returned in the form of increased sales tax revenue.

"We're a very friendly city, but we're a friendly city if you live here. If you are a visitor coming to our city, we're a very unfriendly city," Lubbock Economic Development Alliance Chairman David Alderson said. 

The cost of Lubbock's proposed $6.7-million visitor information center seemed to be a sticking point at Thursday's city council meeting.

"I think you have to speak out for, as I see it, the best interest for the citizen's money," Klein said. 

"None of our property tax payer's money is going into this, but it's going to be a sales tool that is going to help increase the sales tax. So, I don't understand why you wouldn't support, why we would not want something like this for Lubbock," Councilwoman Phyllis Jones said. 

"I will tell you that if the hotel industry and your local hotel owners did not think that this was the best economic activity for your hotel occupant tax, they wouldn't be here to support it," Texas Hotel and Lodging Association President Scott Joslove said. 

"I'm very disappointed in the amount of dollars that we're spending on it," Councilman John Leonard said. 

"It's time for us to quit penny pinching Lubbock to death," Councilman Floyd Price said. 

"I support a visitor's center; can it be a virtual visitor's center? Can it be something better that more reflects our informational age," Klein asked. 

Klein suggests using the money to improve the already standing civic center, but some say the city needs more.

"I am a real estate agent here in town, I've done what I can, but I need somebody, something to help me make Lubbock impressionable to them," a Lubbock realtor said. 

"The history says, in every other city that has these, it does generate additional visitors, therefore there is additional revenue for our merchants in town, and ultimately sales tax dollars too," Mayor David Miller said. 

According to Joslove, Lubbock is one of the top ten destinations in the state. He estimates a visitor information center could have folks extend their stay, and $1-$2-million to the economy each year.

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