Hughes supported quarter of a billion dollars in downtown taxpayer spending

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News release from the Henry for Mayor campaign:

Hughes supported quarter of a billion dollars in downtown taxpayer spending
Now Criticizes Public Investment in Downtown

From 2000-2007 Paula Hughes advocated for over a quarter of a billion dollars in taxpayer spending downtown. In fact, according to the News-Sentinel, some of Hughes proposals were “so vast in scope and cost they scarcely seem imaginable.”[1]

Now that she is a candidate for mayor, Hughes has reversed her position and says the city has “overinvested” in downtown.

“I believe strengthening our downtown is an important part of the long term health of our community and I remember when Paula Hughes felt the same way,” said Mayor Henry. “It’s clear by her recent statements that she has changed her mind now that she’s running for mayor.”

Paula Hughes’s real record:

2000: Hughes supported spending $72,500,000 of taxpayer money on a downtown arena,[2] including $60,000,000 from a 1% food and beverage tax, $7,500,000 of taxpayer money for the land purchase, and $5,000,000 of tax money from taxpayers across the state.[3]
2001: Hughes supported an $84 million library expansion, financed by property taxes.[4] Hughes said it was a “relatively tiny cost per household…we need to do big things like this.”[5]
2002: As President of the DID, Hughes released a 5 year, $100 million plan for downtown, which called for $20,000,000 in taxpayer spending. [6] The proposals in her plan ranged “from the relatively inexpensive…to projects so vast in scope and cost they scarcely seem imaginable.”[7]
2004: Hughes supported spending at least $26,700,000 on the expansion of the Grand Wayne Center.[8] [9]
2007: Hughes supported spending $63,500,000 for Harrison Square, publicly testifying in favor of the project[10], planned “to cost the city $63.5 million.”[11]

Paula Hughes today?

2011: Speaking about downtown development at her press conference last week, Hughes said (9:54): “I don’t think the city and the community needs to spend a lot of money on this. I think what we need to do is put elbow grease into it, and the time and effort into organizing, clearing the ground and then making it available to the private sector to succeed.”
2011: Speaking on WFFT, Hughes said (2:24): “We have overinvested in downtown as a public sector, we poured a lot of money in there and really restricted the things Fort Wayne can do in other areas…”
Please see attached document for sources.

Citations

[1] “Farmer’s market and canal could return; Downtown consultants pitch ideas big and small.” Leininger, News-Sentinel, 6/1/2002
[2] “Group given deadline for arena plans commissioners want downtown specifics by Nov. 29.” Dawson, News-Sentinel, 10/19/2000
[3] “Backers of downtown arena reveal plans food tax would finance some of it, group tells chamber.” Dawson, News-Sentinel, 11/29/2000
[4] “The debate over the library It could revitalize downtown, say supporters. It’s too big, say opponents.” Perez, News-Sentinel, 9/27/2001
[5] “Library unveils overhaul $84.1 million upgrade includes improvements countywide.” Griner, Journal Gazette, 4/27/2001
[6] “Downtown’s makeover could cost $100 million; The final report will be released on Wednesday.” Leininger, News-Sentinel, 11/16/2002
[7]”Farmer’s market and canal could return; Downtown consultants pitch ideas big and small.” Leininger, News-Sentinel, 6/1/2002
[8]”Coliseum-Grand Wayne Merger?’; Combining the management of Memorial Coliseum and the Grand Wayne Center could free funds for other uses, mayor said.” Leininger, News-Sentinel, 4/17/2004.

 

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