UPDATE: Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce pulls support for raising - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce pulls support for raising restaurant, hotel taxes

Eau Claire (WQOW) - -

Eau Claire (WQOW) -- The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has pulled support for a bill that would raise taxes on those eating and sleeping in the city.

The original proposal would have allowed the City of Eau Claire to collect an additional half-percent tax on restaurant food and beverages, and up to 2 percent more at hotels.

Mark Faanes with the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce told News 18 they've received negative feedback to the plan, and might have proposed the bill to quickly. The bill was meant to generate additional funding for the Sonnentag Recreation Complex on Menomonie Street.

Faanes said the chamber wants to step back and get more input from major parties involved, before moving forward.

Posted Feb. 7, 2018 -- Your bill at Eau Claire hotels and restaurants could soon be higher if the state passes a new bill. 

Under the proposal, the City of Eau Claire could collect an added half-percent tax on restaurant food and beverages and up to 2 percent more at hotels.

The extra money would then fund a potential exposition center on Menomonie Street. The "expo" center would act like a convention center for larger meetings, as well as a sports arena. The goal is to bring in more attractions to the Chippewa Valley through this public purpose.

On Wednesday, News 18 spoke with Sen. Terry Moulton (R-Chippewa Falls) about the bill while he was at a "Reach Out and Read" event at Marshfield Clinic in Chippewa Falls.

Senator Moulton co-authored the bill and said it's in the early phases and lawmakers need to have more conversations about the details with stakeholders.

"There needs to be a little bit more discussions between those people and the chamber and maybe some of that information can get compromised in some way and become somewhat acceptable. Obviously, with a center like this, you're going to draw more revenue in and I think that's the goal," Moulton said.

The City of Superior passed a referendum for a similar project, but local businesses in Eau Claire aren't on board quite yet. 

Owner of Mona Lisa Restaurant, Lisa Aspenson, feels the extra sales tax could drive customers away from an already difficult business.

"If the customers have an addition tax on the bottom line, it's really going to impact the potential of people not choosing to go out to eat as much, or not spending as much money, and we really can't afford that,"  Aspenson said. "Every time we turn around the fees in the city, whether it be the restaurant fees that were just doubled over this last year, or our property taxes and everything else just puts us into this pile."

Aspenson said if expenses keep going up, local restaurants could close their doors. 

Community members in Eau Claire have a say in this proposal. Senator Moulton told News 18 this tax bump would only happen via referendum and voters would have to pass it. 

Read the Text: Senate Bill 727

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