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City rejects two initiative petitions

Jefferson City officials have denied two initiative petitions from a residents group against the use of tax dollars on a proposed conference center.

Last week, the Citizens Against the Convention Center Committee filed two notices of intent with the city clerk’s office to begin the initiative petition process to offer to the City Council two potential ordinances opposing the conference center.

One ordinance sought to eliminate the 4 percent lodging tax dedicated to conference center funding and stop the city from using any tax or public money from construction of a convention center.

The second ordinance sought to stop the city from using any tax or public money for the construction of a convention center, but would have left the 4 percent lodging tax in place.

In a letter dated Sept. 20, but shown publicly Tuesday, City attorney Drew Hilpert, who also is acting as interim city administrator, responded to the group’s petitions, stating they “will not be allowed to be circulated.”

Hilpert cited a section of the City Charter, which states the initiative petition “shall not extend to any ordinance relating to appropriation of money, levy of taxes or zoning.” Hilpert stated the first ordinance pertains to the levy of taxes because it proposes eliminating the lodging tax levy. The second ordinance, he stated, pertains to the appropriation of money concerning a conference center.

Tim Stallman, chairman of the Citizens Against the Convention Center Committee, said the committee is extremely displeased by Hilpert’s decision and the group is looking into its options moving forward, which includes the possibility of going to court.

“This isn’t over yet,” Stallman said.

The City Council is in the process of considering two proposals for a conference center, which would use $9 million in lodging tax contributions for construction of the facility. The two proposals are from Farmer Development, which would place the facility at the Capital Mall, and Ehrhardt Hospitality Group, which would use the West McCarty Street site.

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