Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
April 30, 1999

Ames voters reject hotel tax increase

by Anne Dolan

By nearly a 3 to 1 margin, Ames voters Tuesday rejected a proposed hike in the city's hotel tax, part of which would have funded additional seats in Hilton Coliseum. Unofficial results from the county auditor's office showed 1,347 (27 percent) supporting the increase and 3,664 voters (73 percent) opposing it. The measure needed a simple majority to pass.

"The vote was disappointing," said vice president for external affairs Murray Blackwelder, who led a university- city committee that proposed the tax increase. "We had an opportunity to take some action that would make a difference in this community for years to come.

"It isn't a crisis, but we missed an opportunity."

Blackwelder said Wednesday that design work will begin immediately on other planned improvements to Hilton, including additional restrooms for men and women, and structural modifications that will bring the facility in line with state fire and federal accessibility codes. Iowa State will pay for those improvements. The goal still is to begin that work in December or January, he said.

Blackwelder said he isn't aware of any plans to seek a hotel tax increase for Hilton improvements again, perhaps in partnership with other local recreation or tourism-related organizations.

"Anything is possible in the future," he said.

Part of his committee's interest in the hotel tax revenue at this time was the other work planned for Hilton. Adding seats in conjunction with that project would have saved about $400,000, he said.

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