Shouldn’t this have come up earlier? La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat is considering a significant hike in the city’s room tax to help pay for an expansion of the La Crosse Center. The mayor’s plan to come up with new revenue sources to help pay for what could be a $40 million expansion project isn’t surprising. But a big hike in the room tax may not be the best way to do that. The Mayor is considering raising the room tax from the current 8 percent to 12 percent. Raising the room tax may be seen as picking the low-hanging fruit. After all, many who pay the tax would be visitors to our city. But raising the room tax to 12 percent would give La Crosse the highest room tax in the state. That would have a definite impact. Many conventions make the decision whether to hold their event in La Crosse based on the costs. And how much it costs to stay here is definitely part of that. We risk turning away big conventions, which stand to be the most profitable. Landing conventions is a very competitive business. La Crosse already has a hard time competing with other cities for convention business. A big hike in the room tax stands to make that more difficult. But the other problem with the Mayor’s plan is the timing. The city has already committed $35 million in borrowing to pay for the Center expansion. Shouldn’t the room tax hike have come up before now? Members of the council will be asked next month to approve the Center expansion plans. We should at least have plans for how to pay for that work before voting to approve the concept.