Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
February 5, 1999

City council hears Hilton plan

by Anne Dolan

Iowa State has taken the first step toward adding 1,400 seats to Hilton Coliseum. At its Jan. 26 meeting, the Ames City Council directed city attorney John Klaus to draw up an ordinance calling for a special election on raising the city's hotel tax by 2 cents for 10 years to pay for the additional seats. The ordinance will require three readings and a public hearing before a council vote. The first reading could come as early as the council's Feb. 9 meeting.

During his presentation to the council, vice president for external affairs Murray Blackwelder also proposed that the Memorial Union voluntarily assess the hotel tax on its guests, even though Iowa law exempts the Union from the assessment. Blackwelder, representing a city/university task force, said the Union pledge to assess the hotel tax is "forever," not just for the 10 years of the proposal. Blackwelder and vice president for business and finance Warren Madden said the university will not add the surcharge to residence hall rates for visitors attending conferences and camps.

If the council approves the ordinance and voters pass the tax increase, all of the additional hotel tax revenues will be used for the Hilton seating project for five years. In the second five years of the proposal, the additional 2 cents on the dollar would be divided evenly between the Hilton seat project and other needs designated by the Ames Convention & Visitors Bureau. If higher-than-projected hotel occupancy in the next 10 years results in revenue beyond what is needed for Hilton seats, the additional funds will be used to improve media technology capabilities in the Scheman Building. After 10 years, the city's contract with Iowa State for the hotel tax revenues would end, Blackwelder said.

The seats, at an estimated cost of $2.5 million, are one component of ISU renovation plans for Hilton.

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