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Second council committee votes to raise La Crosse’s room tax

Brad Williams

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The city of La Crosse may try to go it alone in helping to finance the $42 million La Crosse Center expansion. 

After the city’s finance committee voted Thursday night, both regular city council committees have now approved a hotel room tax increase to 9.5 percent, with the extra money intended to help pay for the civic center project. 

Mayor Tim Kabat said the county board and the city of Onalaska have shown little interest in pitching in. 

“We were able to convince a conservative governor (Scott Walker) to kick in $5 million to this project, and yet we can’t even get our neighbors to offer anything to help,” Kabat told the finance committee.

The county government has objected to being asked to fund the Center without being included in the planning process for the renovation.

Committee member Roger Christians doesn’t think a 1.5 percent increase in the room tax is a big deal, arguing that nobody’s going to drive to Onalaska just to save a $1.50 in taxes on a $100 hotel room.

“What is the room tax for,” council member Doug Happel said, “if not to charge taxes to visitors in order to avoid increases for local taxpayers.”

The entire city council weighs in on the room tax next week.  

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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