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Convention Center Funding Leads to Discussion of Extending Library Tax to Build Convention Complex

July 12th, 2012 by

UAM Chancellor Jack Lassiter gave an updated Community Center Planning Committee status to the Advertising and Promotion Commission, Monday night.

The planning committee recently met and discussed how to possibly cut the price of the proposed building, and also produce funding.

According to Lassiter, the building’s price tag currently sits at $33 million. He was told during a meeting with a new engineer that, “it would be extremely difficult to take it below $25 million.”

Lassiter stated that the Planning Committee has had a woman perusing grants and, “she has been frustrated because no one is giving money for buildings, no matter how you approach it or what you call it.”

With grants not generating the type of money for the project that was hoped for, other suggestions are now being made for how to make the construction of the Community Center possible.

“One suggestion for finding funding is to hire a true grant writer.” “To hire that person for this one project would probably be from $50,000 to $250,000.” – Lassiter

He went on to say, “I said we never would, but an obvious suggestion is some kind of tax.” “We could extend the current library tax, as Crossett has just asked its people to do.”

Monticello’s library tax generates around a million dollars a year. “It’s not my decision to make… we can go out and have an election and vote on extending that tax.” – Lassiter

Dr. Lassiter went on to explain that he had been told that at the same time of trying to extend the current tax, we could ask for another .25 tax, because the building will need more money generated than the current library tax will provide.

“$25 million is not out of reach for us. “We feel like people will get behind the project and we can raise some money.” Lassiter

Another idea was the “hamburger tax,” which Dr. Lassiter said he is “totally against because it taxes the wrong people,” adding that he had the UAM students to think of, as well.

“If the decision is we’re not going after the tax… then our business will be over.” – Lassiter

Design changes discussed to make the building more affordable included using less expensive materials. Instead of stone and brick, money savings could come from using other materials like metal and cinder blocks. Other savings could come from having less parking and using Drew Central for overflow if needed, or using gravel instead of asphalt for lots. Landscaping could also be cut back or not done at all until funding for it was available.

Changes addressed so far have not affected the facility’s size or function, just the aesthetics.

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22 Responses to “Convention Center Funding Leads to Discussion of Extending Library Tax to Build Convention Complex”

  1. UAM Supporter says:

    Here is the problem. The people have voted for the library tax, and over a year later, there is still not construction of the library. We the people have been told the project is suspended. This is the same excuse we were given when we voted for the sports complex. Once it was decided to start braking ground, officials were asking “where did the money go?” How about we stick with taxes that actually bring in money, that create jobs. I understand this complex would bring in some jobs, but not enought to make a big difference. Lets bring industries down to Monticello, and not have our people leave the area for work.

  2. Tax Payer says:

    Seriously? 33 million for a community center in Monticello? And why is UAM so committed to this project? We aren’t building a professional sports arena. Seriously? 33 MILLION? Everytime you turn around UAM is telling the city council what taxes are beneficial to them. What about using tax money to benefit the city of Monticello? I understand UAM is the biggest employer in the county and as a former student and graduate I can understand the need to support them. But you can clearly hear Mr. Lassiter brag about a recent $50,000 donation. Most people assume that the recent scholarship lottery is beneficial for people wanting to attend college. In some cases it might help. What is not being mentioned is the fact that alot of people are being denied these scholarships. Especially non-traditional students entering college for the first time. These are the people that would benefit from the scholarship the most. And the non-traditional students are usually more committed and will do the required studying, etc… What is not being shared is the tuition increases that were seen across the state after the lottery scholarship was inacted. So even though it would appear that by supporting the scholarship lottery you would be helping deserving students go to college, you are also helping to pay the higher tuitions associated with the Universities that hiked their tuition rates when the lottery passed.

  3. tax payer says:

    About the longest you can go on a bond issue is 30 years. A half percent sales tax will yield about $1,000,000 per year. Don’t look like we can pay the mortgage with this “tempory tax”

  4. DC Taxpayer says:

    I don’t understand why public officals always bring up taxes when there is already a tax burden. This building is a luxury in my opinion and should be self sustained. No more taxes please!

  5. Just a reader says:

    I believe the Library Building Committee is meeting this week to prepare bid documents. The Library is not suspended but is on track and should start construction soon. We should not extend the Library Tax because we voted on a LIBRARY TAX, not a Convention center tax. If you want a tax for that, then take it to the people to vote on and we will vote it down.

  6. Broken Promises says:

    Jack Lassiter said this project would be done with no increased tax burden on the local taxpaper. The Library tax was passed with the understanding that under no condition would this tax be extended for another purpose( in other words they would not put a tax extension on the ballot when you are on vaction in July with the bare minimum advertising the law allows.) This tax needs to sunset —- period. Our sales tax is too high in Drew County sales tax is a regressive tax as it discourages business, and keeps the poor, poorer and is now whittling away at any middle class. This whole project smacks of elitism.

    This project is completely insane and needs to die now. Lassiter needs to focus on parking and new class rooms at UAM to accomodate the new record setting freshman classes every semester in part due to the lottery scholarship. Do you notice that we never read a word on the retention rate of all the new freshman at UAM, so Tax Payer you are right. Non-tradtional students deserve scholarship money. They are less likely to squander it.

    UAM should be about offering a quality education for an affordable tuition. By the way, both the Mayor and the UAM Chancellor are paid salaries with public tax dollars, so they need to quit wasting their efforts (and our money), and the Mayor needs to fix out city’s water system, and the Chancellor needs to worry about his student’s education.

    And UAM Supporter, this facility will cost us about a million dollars a year upkeep with little or no real job creation. You are right!

  7. leslie says:

    LEt us build the library and the fire department and fix the water system before we jump into another project that is going to cost us another tax increase

    Most citizens of Monticello and Drew County HAVE to live on a budget why not the Mayor, City Council and UAM Chancellor, if this is so important to UAM let them build it and when the citizens have need for it we can rent it for a day WE DO NOT NEED THIS CONVENTION CENTER UNTIL THE ECONOMY IN THIS AREA IS FIXED, THE WATER SYSTEM IS FIXED AND THE FIRE DEPARTMENT IS BUILT AND THE LIBRARY IS BUILT

    Taxes taxes and more taxes not to mention 2 increases in our water bill in the past year

    Is Monticello,Drew County trying to keep up with our current Federal Government’s ideas, spend and tax

  8. Whats up says:

    What did I tell everyone one when this tax was voted in , it would never go away.Thanks for voting in something that will never go away.

  9. you're kidding me right? says:

    a conviention center with pool could really help this town! did you read on here? 278 kids were here just a few days ago to swim! 278 kids may have an average of 3 supporters. so 278 times 3 is 834. there may have been up to 834 people at that small little pool!

    if all 834 people ate lunch here thats close to 6,000 dollars into the local economy for lunch alone!

    now picture we have a huge full size pool!!! we could get 4 or 5 times the number of competitors in there! that means more parents supporting their kids, more people will come from farther away meaning they might have to spend the night somewhere. bingo the hotels make money, you serve them 2 or 3 more meals, restaurants make more.

    if properly advertised and utilized this facility could bring a huge influx of outside money!!!! not only paying for itself, but helping out the local economy!!

    how many of you go to little rock multiple times a year for concerts? what do you do when you go. you get there early, go out to eat at a nice place, then go to the concert, buy a comemorative tshirt, go buy a 5 dollar bottle of water watch the show then leave probably heading back to monticello so you fill up with gas.

    these figures are per person for one concert…
    go out to eat somewhere nice 15-20 dollars
    ticket for show 50 dollars
    tshirt 30 dollars
    2 bottles of water 10 dollars
    gas 60 dollars
    you just spent a minimum of 165 dollars in little rock in one night…

    if 100 people went to the concert that would be 10,500 to 16,500 dollars spent in little rock in one night!
    if 1000 people went 105,000 to 165,000 dollars for one night.

    now picture that money coming into monticello for a concert! this could be huge!!!!!! but probably wont ever happen… and thats why monticello will always be a small town and the people the college educates will move to little rock. the towns people have no foresight to the future!

  10. Josh says:

    TAX! TAX! TAX! That is all the elected officials or Administrators ever cry! “It’s not within our means.” “It’s not in the budget.” So, let’s tax it! I don’t see them talking about a tax to build a much needed fire station, but yet they cry TAX to build a useless convention center. Do they think Monticello is really going to pull people in to use this convention center. If they think this, they should look at the building at the industrial park. We’ve sure pulled people in to use that. Of course, our Mayor looks real interested in all of this; kicked back against the wall half asleep. Seems to me the answer isn’t TAX, it’s getting elected officials and Administrators in charge that aren’t interested in taxing people to death!

  11. steve says:

    tax this tax that town council will vote it in we the citizens really have no say regardless what the law says this town council wants to keep us down medc doesnt care if we grow or not they get there money either way. the convention center will only benefit the college do you people really think big name entertainers will come to monticello

  12. A. Hiddell says:

    Before we extend a tax for something the city may or may not be allowed to use once built, could we possibly repair the holes in the tops of the water towers? Yes the holes the ones that go all the way through and let no telling what run into our drinking water? Please. Pretty Pretty Please.

  13. Broken Promises says:


    We have had four water rate increases since 2009 and almost half of our water revenues goes to support: the general fund. the airport, Oakland cemetary and upkeep of our baseball fields and parks. The parks take the lion’s share (this year’s budget is 337,000). This is in addition to all of the one cent sales tax spent every year on parks and recreation. The point is if we were not bankrupt building the facility, then the upkeep and maintenance would finish us off. We would be better of with less sales tax for our elected offficials to blow on entertainment as they illegally use of water funds for their upkeep as this is never calculated in ant decision making.

  14. Kidding No. 2 says:

    When I read the You’re kidding me right, I wondering if the whole comment was just a big nonsense deal. Go check the convention centers already built around here and through out the country. They are not being used, most places can not even afford to maintain them. They are growing grass around them and not used just like our industrial park building. We can’t complete one big expense with the tax payer’s money until they are trying to ride off into the sunset with another pipe dream. The dorms are old, they are using the UAM pool for storage and they are growing one big mold trap and wasting that building just like the fire department here was never maintained. If the college wants to build a nice field house with swimming pool, let the college and the alumni build one and then let them be a good neighbor and let the swim teams have a meet in it. We don’t need a $30 Million dollar anything, let alone a convention center built so UAM could have a swimming pool. We need to get back to basics and fix our water system, water towers, and sewer system. They need to be annexing the land down there toward the new 69 highway and getting water and sewer that direction and save Monticello from
    becoming a ghost town. Boy, we do need some future planning going on, but it is not a convention center. I have been to conventions and it wasn’t to a little town like Monticello. It was Memphis, Dallas, and Vegas. I have also been to concerts and it wasn’t anything like Monticello. MEDC needs to get off their duffs and do their job with the money that goes to them. Lassiter with the price of tuition needs to give those kids a good education with well paid teachers to do the job. Those parents pay tuition and they need to come out of an institution with the best education possible and MEDC needs to find some industries to keep those young adults here so they can make a living. If I remember the county has already said they could not afford to help with a convention center and if you look up Arkansas is least likely to get industry because of our high taxes so lets not put the last nail in the coffin with another tax.

  15. willvest says:

    Whoops, the taxpayers fell for it again! people, ya had the chance to( throw da bums out) as they say. ya keep electing them over and over, therefore ya must like em, by extension ya must like their taxes!

  16. you're kidding me right? says:

    wanna talk about something this town doesn’t need…

    a library!!!!!!!!!

    libraries are a dying breed!!! that library is the biggest waste of money there ever was!10 – 12 year old kids have a library at their finger tips! i am the only person i know that has bought a real book in the last 2 years! rooks and nooks and ebooks and ibooks have taken over! its an instant book! no wondering if the library is open or learning the Dewey decimal system. just type the book or the subject in a search bar and bingo there is your book.

  17. Exactly... says:

    Should have voted them all out during the primary…

  18. Broken Promises says:

    Literacy is a dying skill…..if we put as much money and emphasis on reading and writing skills around here as we do sports, Drew County would lead the state in scholastics. Apparently, you do not ever enter our library and see the overflow in the afternnoons after school with kids and parents using the computors and checking out books. Not everyone can afford a “rook, nook, ebook, or ibook.” I suggest you get on your tech devise of choice and research all the towns and cities that wish their local politicians had not sold them a bill of goods for a convention center-sports arena. It will take about five seconds of research. While you are at it, also research the towns and cities facing bankrupty. If you need some help finding this information ask your friendly librarian at the Monticello Library. You will receive help free of charge.

  19. you're kidding me right? says:

    everyone keeps saying we need to keep these UAM grads here….

    you wont keep them here if there is nothing entertaining to do!!

    you wont get new restaurants here if there is nothing entertaining to draw people to eat here!

    if there is nothing to do here then large companies wont come here because employees wont want to live here!!

    if large companies wont come here then UAM students wont even have a job to stay here for!!!

    its a vicious cycle… whats the answer??? i dont know!!! what i do know is saying we dont need to spend money on that will keep us right where we are… falling off the map!

  20. ArTravlR says:

    Really! Why do we even need a new library when the Internet has it all. There are several tax payer supported libraries at all of the schools in the area. We certainly don’t need a Convention Center, what we need is a Bypass around the city like Warren has had for decades.

  21. WeevilsWIn says:

    What we NEED to build is a library with lots of computers and research material. Libraries as you are talking about in the tradional form of going in a nd checking out books are a dying breed. The people waiting inline at the library are doing so to use a computer not check out a book. I am not saying I agree i am just saying thats how it is. We have schools with good library systems and we have a college that is willing to let the schools use their library as well. I think we will end up with a library with Crosetts that has metting rooms and lots of computers. For your information: The lottery scholarship has certain peramaters set up that are not controlled by any of the institutions that receive it as far as who can and cant get non-trads vs a traditonal student. I also think you would be shocked at the retention rate for UAMs freshman. Every college has retention issues lets face it most of us are smarter at 30 or 40 than 18 after all if we had been that smart at 19 we would have gone to college then instead of at 38 like me. The convention center is the ONLY IDEA I have seen on the drawing board for any major addition or change to Monticello in years……. anyone think of anything else ????? Just saying if we sit by and do nothing and change nothing then we get nothing new…….

  22. Reality says:

    These people are crazy. Even the schools are considering going to e-books for education where kids don’t have to haul heavy books around. So what does Monticello need a new library for. A Pool for the college? What for they didn’t take care of the first one they had or even let the public use it, so why would I want to pay more taxes just build UAM a convention center. Most cities with convention centers that have concerts and etc. have other things available to go do like shopping, theme parks, etc. What does Monticello have to offer? It is just as easy for me to go shopping for groceries in Crossett or Pine Bluff there Walmarts even have more selection and I spend the same amount, but my bill is always cheaper. As far as the people elected in local government, it is the same problem with national government the same old ones keep getting put back in office.

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