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Coastal Bend voters to decide funding for Convention Center complex

Hospitality job fair taking place at the American Bank Center
Posted at 8:43 PM, Aug 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-16 00:53:08-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — In June, Corpus Christi City Council were told about five funding sources for an upgraded American Bank Convention Center and new headquarters hotel.

On Tuesday, City Council passed an ordinance putting the most significant funding source, Type A Funds, up to the voters to decide on.

“That accounts for about 35% estimated of what the funding is needed for the project,” Assistant City Manager Heather Hurlbert said.

Voters will be deciding if Type A Funds should be repurposed or not.

“We anticipate that 1/4 of a cent in current day dollars produces about $17.8 million and that continues to increase as sales tax collections increase,” Hurlbert said.

Type A Funds is a portion of sales tax the city collects and is set aside for economic development purposes.

Currently 1/8 of a cent goes towards maintenance and paying off the debt of the American Bank Center. Another 1/8 of a cent goes to maintenance and paying off the debt of the seawall.

Voters are voting on moving that .25 of a cent of each dollar to fund the Convention Center Complex, regional parks, industrial roads and new destination flight options.

“Myself and others think that it’s pretty important that if we’re going to build a facility like this we need to have the airport to support it,” District 1 Councilman Everette Roy said.

City Council had to first pass resolutions defining what the convention center complex includes and separately, what the definition of a regional park is.

The complex includes the arena, Convention Center, Selena Auditorium, Entertainment District and new headquarters hotel. Seven parks were included in the regional park definition, at least one in each district.

Conversations had gone on since the previous City Council meeting to include the Corpus Christi International Airport in Type A Funding.

The discussion ended in the ordinance stating that if the re-purposing is passed, at least 5% will be reserved annually for regional parks and 5% industrial roads. A "meaningful amount" will be reserved annually for new destination flight options, but not to exceed 5%.

The reason that industrial roads are added here is because the money cannot be put towards residential street repairs as that does not fall under economic development.

If the voters pass the ordinance, the Type A money can’t be set aside until the arena is paid off in 2025 and the seawall is paid off in 2026. The re-purposing of the fund would remain in place, until the funds are put to another vote.

If voters don’t pass the re-purposing of Type A Funds, the city can rework it and try again on a ballot in 2024. If that fails again, they may need to find a new funding source for the project.

A study done on the convention center complex estimated it would cost $725 million dollars with about $480 being city contribution. The five funding sources identified would add no new taxes to Corpus Christi residents.

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