Update on Performing Arts Center Funding
It’s with much excitement that I write to you today to announce that plans to build the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts are back on track – and we will break ground on the facility next month.
As you likely know, the funding plan to build the performing arts center relies heavily on taxes paid by the tourists who visit Central Florida, instead of local taxes paid by our residents.
As America’s economy endured a massive recession and our local tourism industry slumped, those funds were greatly diminished, forcing us to delay the project and split its construction into two phases.
Over the past year, Central Florida’s tourism industry has rebounded sharply. Conservative estimates now indicate that the Tourist Development Tax (TDT) will recover more quickly than originally estimated.
Combined with savings generated from an exhaustive cost-savings analysis by construction experts, there are now sufficient funds to pay for the construction of the project. Construction is set to begin in June.
Realizing that tourist taxes could slump again in the event of another economic downtown; we have added additional protection for taxpayers by establishing a backup financing plan should this unlikely scenario occur. Under the backup plan, a host of community leaders from the private sector have agreed to step up and extend up to 16 million dollars to fill any unexpected funding shortfalls. This plan also includes the ability to use 25 million dollars of TDT reserves in the event of another economic downturn.
At the height of the recession, I pledged to you that we would not move forward with this project unless we had the money to pay for it. Through countless hours of hard work and collaboration between the City and our business and arts community, we are now able to move forward with this critically-important project.
For more than 20 years our region has struggled to provide our residents with a world class performing arts center. Today, I am proud to say that we are finally on the verge of realizing this shared dream. I am equally proud that we have done so in a transparent and fiscally-responsible manner.
For more information, please see the fact sheet below.
Thank you for your continued commitment to your City. I encourage you to join us at the regular Orlando City Council meeting this Monday, May 23, 2011 to celebrate as our City government puts this new plan into action and gives the green light for construction to begin.