Extraco Events Center bond election (copy)

McLennan County voters approved a venue tax in May 2017 that will fund an overhaul of the Extraco Events Center.

The May 2017 decision of McLennan County voters to fund Extraco Events Center improvements with new taxes on car rentals and hotel rooms seems to be paying off.

At a meeting of the McLennan County-City Intergovernmental Relations Committee on Monday, County Administrator Dustin Chapman said collections are up 13.3% over the last six-month period.

With collections this year projected to be north of $2.3 million and a debt service of about $1.8 million, Chapman is expecting a $500,000 overage.

“Things are trending very well,” he said.

The 2017 referendum imposed a 5% tax on short-term car rentals and an additional 2% hotel occupancy tax to pay for several phases of expansion at the event center.

The committee, made up of several elected officials between the city of Waco and the county, was pleased.

“All good news,” Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver said.

Commissioners are expected on Tuesday to approve a demolition package for the creative arts building, the ticket office and some electrical and plumbing infrastructure. Chapman said progress will be made in late April and early May.

In December, county officials said the price tag on the entire project will reach $32.7 million.

Emergency management position

The recent retirement of Frank Patterson, the longtime emergency operations coordinator, prompted a job search that has narrowed, Waco Fire Chief Bobby Tatum said at the meeting.

The lone finalist for that position will interview with Waco City Manager Wiley Stem III and McLennan County Judge Scott Felton before a job offer will be submitted, Tatum said.

WaterSmart application

The county is again applying for a WaterSmart grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, consultant Tom Ray said at the meeting.

Its past grant has supported a county water planning group, a water conservation plan and a water supply resiliency plan, Ray said. The grant is worth about $75,000, and cities and the county would provide a local match of about the same amount.

The new grant would continue those efforts and implementation of techniques that center on avoiding the expensive process of treating water being delivered to small towns in the county.

“I’m encouraged,” he said. “I think we’ve got a good shot at this.”

Officials are expected to learn the outcome of the grant application in July.

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