If you have lived in Kingsville for any amount of time you have probably been to an event at the J.K. Northway Exposition Center. As a kid, it was the George Strait Team Roping and Concert; and most recently the Michael Ray concert in support of the Ranch Hand Festival and the Kleberg-Kenedy Country Junior Livestock Show. This building holds a special place in the hearts of those who call Kingsville home.
However, we all recognize that the building is in need of modernization and could better serve our community if it were renovated and upgraded to today’s standards. The City of Kingsville also recognizes those needs and has put together an opportunity for the voters in Kingsville to take the first step in upgrading this facility.
The opportunity comes in the form of a proposed increase to our hotel occupancy tax from 13 percent to 15 percent, to directly support the improvement of the J.K. Northway Exposition Center.
Before we all lose it, it’s important to understand who pays this “tax.” Every time someone stays in a hotel in Kingsville, they are charged a hotel occupancy tax in addition to their room rate. We all pay these types of taxes when we travel out of town and stay at a hotel. Therefore, it’s the visitors to town who will see a very small increase in cost when staying out our hotels. For example, if the average rate is $100 per night, their cost would increase by $2.
The City of Kingsville is proposing that the increase of 2 percent to the existing tax be dedicated to the improvement, expansion and renovation of the J.K. Northway Exposition Center. The best part of this proposal is that we don’t have to wait for the funds to accumulate in order to use them. The City of Kingsville can use the approval of this increase to obtain a Revenue Bond that would provide immediate funding into the project.
By asking voters for this venue tax, the city is asking each voter to help them improve a facility that can bring new and exciting events to our community. Whether it is new concerts, rodeo events, conferences or sports tournaments, the improved facility will be an in-demand venue for years to come.
As the president of the Greater Kingsville Economic Development Council, I fully support this proposition. Our board has passed a resolution in support as well. I personally urge you to support this proposition.
In addition, we fully support the proposition to de-commission several under-utilized areas that are designated as parkland. We believe that the City of Kingsville has adequate neighborhood park coverage and we are excited about their plans to develop Chamberlain Park between city hall and the KISD Administration Building.
These two initiatives are important to moving our community forward. The renovation of our primary venue for large events will help to recruit more events that have a cascade effect on our community. Guests who come to town for an event will stay at our hotels, eat at our restaurants and shop at our stores — all of which provide jobs and revenue for local businesses.
On behalf of the Greater Kingsville EDC, I ask that you support both ballot propositions during the city’s May election.
Brad Womack is the president of board of directors for the Greater Kingsville Economic Development Council.