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Onalaska says no to Kabat’s request for Center contribution

Drew Kelly

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The city of Onalaska has given a frosty response to a request from La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat to help contribute to the $42 million Center expansion.

At their council meeting this week, the council unanimously rejected the request of a $500,000 payment over 10 years.

Mayor Joe Chilsen stated Kabat’s characterization of “collaboration” wasn’t accurate.

“I believe, if you look up collaboration in the dictionary, it does not say ‘pay me,’” Chilsen said. “This board might have been more amenable if they had been included from the get go.”

The Onalaska Mayor also wondered if Kabat had ulterior motives.

“I think that maybe Mayor Kabat doesn’t want this to happen.” Chilsen said. “He doesn’t want us to put any money towards it, but he wants to be able to point the finger.”

Chilsen added the lack of communication and the lack of opportunity for the city sunk the deal from the beginning.

One council member compared the negotiation as the city going for a ride in the back seat of a car, being told to be quiet, but having money ready for tolls and gas.

The council also instructed city leaders discuss a cash for annexation of the Valley View Mall in lieu of a Center payment.

The La Crosse County Board will vote on a donation to the Center at its meeting Thursday night.