County board pledges $3.5 million to Confluence Project - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

County board pledges $3.5 million to Confluence Project, rests on spring referendum


Eau Claire (WQOW)- The first in series of votes was tallied Tuesday night, testing the future of a big project planned for downtown Eau Claire.

The Eau Claire County board voted to pledge $3.5 million to the community arts portion of the Confluence Project.

Developers had asked for $5 million but board members settled on a smaller number and also said they want voters to be part of this decision.

By a vote of 21 to 5 the board approved the $3.5 million dollar contribution. The money would be paid back over a 10-year period, which would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about six dollars more a year on their property tax bill.

Before the pledge vote county board supervisor Gerald Wilkie made a motion to hold a county wide referendum on the project. He says the Confluence Project is a desire and not a need, but there are a lot of people interested in the idea. 

The amendment to hold a referendum also passed, by a 15 to 11 vote.  It will go on the ballot April 1st. That means the board's $3.5 million pledge will be contingent on the spring referendum.

Now that the county has had its say the city will once again weigh in.  The city of Eau Claire has already pledged $5 million for the project, but after a petition was circulated by a citizen group the council faces another big decision.

The council must decide whether to adopt a new charter ordinance, or put it on the ballot as a referendum.  The ordinance would require voter approval for more than $1 million in capital funding, from the city, for any arts project.

The council plans to vote on the charter ordinance Tuesday, January 28th. 

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