About a month ago I had an extensive discussion with City Finance Director Don Herz to try and get as much information as I could about how the arena financing plan will look assuming IMG/ISG gets on board in the coming weeks.
After that conversation, I came away fairly impressed that the stated plan appeared to cost citizens of Lincoln nearly nothing, given that the majority of the funding would be through ISG supplemented with state-approved turnback of sales tax along with occupation taxes on out-of-towners via hotel rooms and rental cars.
Today, I found what some might describe as the first chink in the armor in the arena financing plan. As I asked the Mayor today if there would be any other “out of the blue” funding sources, he mentioned that he believed a city-wide restaurant tax would be necessary (audio here).
Part of me thought the appearance that Lincolnites were shouldering almost none of the arena cost was too good to be true, and it looks like that will turn out to be the case. What does this mean for the arena vote still tentatively scheduled for next Spring? This city’s collective mood would indicate that it is certainly not ripe for taxation, but the equivalent of a ‘user fee’ on dining out? Your guess is as good as mine. I still hope my days of walking what feels like four miles to park at Nebraska basketball games are numbered.