UPDATE: Ordinance impact on Confluence Project unclear - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Ordinance impact on Confluence Project unclear

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - You can add another layer to the Confluence Project storyline.  It's unclear whether a spring referendum would impact the $80 million project.

On Tuesday, the Eau Claire City Council will begin discussing what to do with an ordinance petitioned by a citizen group.  The group wants voters to weigh in on arts projects before the city commits $1 million or more in funding.  The city recently pledged $5 million for the Confluence Project.  Enough signatures were collected by the citizen group, but first, the city council will take it up to decide whether to formally put the ordinance on the ballot.  The council has three options.  It could vote to adopt the ordinance, which would eliminate the need for a spring referendum, it can put it on the ballot, or do nothing, which could open the door for legal action.   A council decision won't come for at least two weeks.

Eau Claire's Own News 18 wants to know what impact a new ordinance would have on the Confluence Project.  Last fall, City Attorney Stephen Nick said the council's $5 million pledge would likely trump the new ordinance.  On Monday, News 18 asked the city if it knows -- right now -- what effect the ordinance would have before the council makes a decision.  Attorney Nick said the impact is unclear.  He said it depends on when or if the ordinance passes or is adopted.

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Signatures have been counted and verified on a petition by a group that wants to see Eau Claire's Confluence Project on the spring ballot. 

The Eau Claire City Council has already pledged $5 million towards the project.

While it is contingent on certain factors, a citizen's group, unhappy with the decision  started a petition drive to get the issue back on the council agenda.

The group's mission:  to allow voters, not the council, to decide whether any arts related project with a city contribution of one million dollars or more should be approved. 

While this could affect the Confluence Project, regardless of whether the project happens, it will affect any future arts-related construction.  

Today, the city clerk's office verified the group has enough valid signatures to bring the matter before the council

The council could do three things.  They could vote to adopt the ordinance, let the voters decide if the ordinance should be enacted, or do nothing, which could mean legal action maybe taken.

The item is on Tuesday's Eau Claire City Council agenda.

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Eau Claire (Press Release) - Donna Austad, Eau Claire City Clerk, has certified 4,777 signatures collected by volunteers in 30 short days for sufficiency and this will move the direct legislation petition forward.

As this is now being forwarded for action, the next steps will be for the City Council to take up this direct legislation at a full council meeting.

"I appreciate Ms. Austad's diligence and the speed with which she certified these signatures. I know that 5,000 citizens of Eau Claire are eagerly watching for this question to appear on the ballot in the spring election", said Mike Bollinger, CRC President. "This is very timely as the full County Board appears to be considering their own pledge of $3.5 million. I would encourage county board members to talk to their constituencies as the petition circulators did. I believe they will find that the vast majority of the citizenry want a vote."

**For more of WQOW News 18's Confluence Project coverage, click here.

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