The city of West Monroe expects to collect about $1 million in tax revenues from an economic development district including restaurants, the Ike Hamilton Expo Center and a movie theater after beginning to levy two new taxes last year.
The revenues raised thus far surpassed the $800,000 estimate projected by Mayor Staci Mitchell in 2018.
Under Mitchell’s urging, the West Monroe Board of Aldermen formed the economic development district, or EDD, incorporating both sides of Interstate 20 from Well Road to Walk-Ons restaurant. The city began levying a one-cent sales tax and a one-cent hotel occupancy tax in the district in April 2019.
City Clerk Scott Olvey told The Ouachita Citizen the EDD generated $959,304 in tax revenues as of May this year. Once the city accepts tax receipts for June, it should exceed the $1-million mark, according to Olvey.
Olvey noted the city would surpass its original $800,000 estimate in spite of lower than expected sales tax collections in March and April because of the COVID-19 outbreak and associated lockdown. For example, in April, the city collected some $45,000.
“In April, the EDD generated about half of what it normally would be,” Olvey said.
The money raised in the EDD will be spent in that district. Mitchell said the city is considering investing the money in a new indoor sports complex in light of the area’s need for one according to a study by the Monroe-West Monroe Convention & Visitors Bureau. Indoor sports at such a facility could include basketball, soccer, volleyball and others.
Mitchell said she believed an indoor sports complex could have a similar impact on the economy as the Ike Hamilton Expo Center did when it first opened 20 years ago. According to the CVB’s study, the city-owned property known as “Pointe West” (located across from the Ike and adjacent to I-20) was well-suited for such a project.
Some of the money raised in the EDD also has been spent on upgrading the Ike Hamilton Expo Center to increase the center’s hosting capacity and ability to attract more visitors from other states.
For many years, the city struggled to develop the property around the Ike, especially while seeking a major retail store to anchor an open-air mall development as proposed by former Mayor Dave Norris’ administration.