West Monroe Mayor Staci Mitchell says the city’s plans for an amphitheater, possibly along the Ouachita River, could cost $1.8 million.
Mitchell updated the community about the proposed amphitheater and other projects last week at the annual State of the City event at the West Monroe Convention Center.
During a review of the city’s financial health, Mitchell said the city’s operating expenditures were expected to total some $23 million this year. That amount was $1.8 million more than last year. The city projected a $677,000, which would bring the city’s fund balance to $9.5 million.
Mitchell also took time to dispel concerns about how the city spent sales tax revenues.
“A lot of people think the city gets all of that 10.44-percent tax that you pay for when you purchase something,” Mitchell said. “So just a fun fact — 4.45 percent of that is state sales tax, three percent goes to the Ouachita Parish School Board and then the remaining 2.99 percent is what actually comes to the city.”
City officials say the city’s capital budget, which is reserved for infrastructure and facilities improvements, could reach $12.2 million by the year’s end. The capital budget is funded by a one-cent sales tax and generates between $3.5 million to $4 million each year. Revenues from the one-cent sales tax are unassigned and can be used for unexpected projects and repairs.
Though the city’s financial health was strong, the city had not escaped the effect of inflation, according to Mitchell.
“We always cringe when we get a new bid in and it’s 25 to 30 percent minimum more than what the estimated cost was,” Mitchell said. “So of course we work with our department heads to be more efficient and just be very mindful of our expenses.”
Mitchell also updated the public on progress for the city’s biggest projects currently underway, including the Sports & Events Complex, the Ouachita River marina and riverfront development.
“I want you to know this marina has taken longer than any of us expected,” Mitchell said. “But it is there. This project is private investment through the Picture This Capital Campaign. Gus and Jane Campbell actually donated the marina.”
Mitchell said the marina would open soon, with cleaning and fencing completed last week.
Meanwhile, concrete walls for the Sports and Events Complex have been formed on the foundation and within the next two weeks will begin to be tilted up, according to Mitchell.
Mitchell indicated the city would seek grant funding to build a $1.8-million amphitheater. In the past, Mitchell has floated the idea of building an amphitheater along the river.
“And no, we don’t have $1.8 million sitting around in a bank waiting to go to an amphitheater,” Mitchell said. “If we had that, we’d be doing some more streets. We are working with our executive leadership council on the Picture This Capital Campaign and aggressively looking for grant funding to make this happen.”
Mitchell also announced during the event that Scott Olvey, the city clerk, was retiring.
“He has been with the city almost 36 years,” Mitchell said. “But more importantly, he’s been the finance director with me the last four years. So I thank him, appreciate him and wish him the best. Your help, knowledge, assistance and advice have been wonderful.”