It probably won’t happen, but Evansville City Councilman Jeff Knies — an opponent of a downtown arena — says the $130-million project should be put before voters in the form of a referendum.It probably won’t happen, but Evansville City Councilman Jeff Knies — an opponent of a downtown arena — says the $130-million project should be put before voters in the form of a referendum.
The Republican says a project of this magnitude should be approved by voters, even if no property-tax dollars are being spent directly on the project. (The plan is for the project to be paid via riverboat receipts from Casino Aztar, tax increment financing money and food and beverage taxes.)
There’s one big problem with Knies’s proposal: Indiana law does not allow for referendums on project developed using tax-increment financing, so for a referendum to take place it would require a change in state law, something could delay the new arena by two years:
"The Indiana General Assembly made decisions this past session about what projects should be subject to referendum," Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel said in a statement. "They specifically excluded projects financed like Evansville’s proposed arena, therefore the law does not allow for a referendum on our project.
"To ask for a referendum on this project would require the Indiana General Assembly to revisit this entire issue, which would set the project back two years. We have been elected to make tough decisions. If Councilman Kniese does not support the project, he should vote against the resolution being brought before Council on Monday."