Dallas could get a new convention center if residents vote yes on the proposition at the ballot box this November.
Proposition A is a $1.5 billion proposal that would replace the existing Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and fund certain improvements at Fair Park.
The ballot measure asks citizens to vote on a 2% increase — from 13% to 15% — in the hotel occupancy tax, which is paid by individuals renting hotel rooms in Dallas.
Bridget Lopez, a managing partner at Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson LLP, told The Dallas Express, “If we can have visitors and tourists pay for it, my children won’t have to. That’s why I’m like, yes, let’s do this now. And from an equity position, it’s just the right thing to do. I mean, we need to have that kind of investment in the southern part of Dallas.”
When the revamp is complete, the city will see lots of development and economic opportunity for the communities around Fair Park, Lopez claimed.
“If approved, this $1.5 billion initiative will require no increase whatsoever in sales taxes or property taxes,” touted Mayor Eric Johnson. “It will be funded entirely by visitors.”
The recurring argument in favor of the proposal, that local residents would not be forced to subsidize the project with an increase in property or sales taxes, was also made by Texas State Senator Royce West.
“As trusted leaders in this city, we would not try to sell you a bill of goods as it relates to what this particular project will mean to the city,” he said. “There will not be an increase in your taxes whatsoever.”
Still, Proposition A does have some critics.
Dallas City Councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn, District 12, voted “no” on the project earlier this year.
Mendelsohn argued that the project’s actual costs had not been fully calculated and that there was no clear evidence the convention center rebuild would deliver the promised economic growth and jobs.
“Everyone likes to say the project will spur economic development in the area, and that has been said every single time,” said Mendelsohn.
Some advocacy groups, such as Texans for Fiscal Responsibility (TFR), have voiced concerns about hotel occupancy taxes in the past, noting that they can dissuade travelers from staying in the cities with high rates, and such taxpayer dollars are often misused by city officials.
TFR noted that cities such as Irving have wasted millions in taxpayer money collected through hotel occupancy taxes due to a lack of oversight.