A proposal to raise the room tax in three Vilas County municipalities from 4.5% to 8% to fund repair and replacement of the ice plant at the Sports Arena was supported in a 3-1 split vote of the Eagle River Area Room Tax Commission last Tuesday, and if approved, would be for a period of three years.
Eagle River Recreation Association (ERRA) spokesperson Jerry Burkett said the 1965 system has apparent leaks and needs to be replaced. “There is coolent leaks and DNR has given the ERRA one year to replace the system,” Burkett said. “This is the Lambeau Field of hockey with the domed facility built in 1933.” Burkett said there is a Go Fund Me page that has $13,000 in small donations and he has contacted five foundations for help, hoping to raise $200,000 by June 1, toward the estimated $1.5 million cost.
The ERRA has asked businesses with advertising inside the dome to pay 10 years of rent in advance. Commission member Ron Van Dusen favored the idea saying “inreasing the sales tax would not be fair to local residents” with visitors paying the bill but Commission member Carol Radloff favored the sales tax, Van Dusen suggested a sunset date of three years adding “increasing the room tax is the least painful way to go, even if I lose some business.”
Town of Washington chairman Jim Egan suggested the municipalities keep more of the funding since it hasn't been increased from 10% since first adopted in 2000.
On a 3-1 vote the Commission will aske the towns of Lincoln, Washington, and city of Eagle River to increase the room tax 3.5% pledged to the hockey dome improvements for a period of three years.All three municipalities will have to adopt the identical language to become effective.