$4M found for LC Civic Center improvements - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

$4M found for LC Civic Center improvements

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

From boat shows to a three-ringed circus, Mardi Gras and much more - the Lake Charles Civic Center serves Southwest Louisiana in so many ways. However, in terms of revenue, the Civic Center is not a money maker. In fact, it generally loses about a million dollars a year.

To help with the maintenance, operations, and capital improvements, the Louisiana State Legislature appropriated half of the state sales tax spent at hotels in Ward 3 in Calcasieu Parish. The fund has generated about $200,000 annually to be used specifically for the improvements at the Civic Center.

Mayor Randy Roach asked Senator Ronnie Johns to look into whether there were more funds available. 

"And the mayor said look we are getting about $200,000 a year from this fund, is there any way we can get more out of this fund? I said let me look into it -- see where it is coming from and what we can do," said Johns.

Johns did some digging and what he found was there was a lot more.

"A lady called me - she said - are you sitting down? I said yeah, I'm sitting down, I'm in my car. She said there is a total of about $4 million sitting in that fund right now that has never been drawn down," explained Johns.

By no fault of the city, those millions were just sitting there - partly because more money had been generated and had accumulated over the years. Senator Johns expects with the Golden Nugget Casino coming on next year and other hotel properties opening up there's more to come.

The State Legislature adopted an amendment to the budget allowing 1.1-million dollars from the fund to go to the Civic Center. Mayor Roach said it will help the bottom line.

"By increasing the annual appropriation that we will get from that fund going forward... the next fiscal year we will probably get somewhere around a million dollars out of that fund so that will greatly reduce the subsidy that we have had to historically fund when we do the budget for the Civic Center," said Mayor Roach.

It's still not yet clear how all that money will be used, but Mayor Roach said city staff is already coming up with a list of priorities for next year's capital budget that will be submitted in August.

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