JANESVILLE — The Janesville City Council is expected to vote on a resolution Monday on how much it would be willing to contribute in city taxpayer money to the proposed ice arena and convention center for the vacant Sears space at the Uptown Janesville Mall.

But some council members have continuing concerns over the direction of the project.

At a forum last Thursday sponsored by the Rock County Citizen Civics Academy, Acting City Manager Dave Moore said city staff will likely recommend bonding for $17.3 million.

That’s the difference between the total cost estimate of $50.3 million, and other potential funding sources. Final approval for borrowing the money and seeking contracts would come at a later date.

Those other funding sources include roughly $24 million in state and federal taxpayer money the project is hoping to receive, along with up to $7 million in pledges by the friends group. (See charts below)

According to city of Janesville documents obtained by RCCCA through a Freedom of Information Act request, a formal application has not yet been prepared or submitted for the $15 million State ARPA / State non-state building grant or the $4 million Federal Economic Fevelopment Grant. 

The city has submitted an online application to Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s office for a $5 million Federal Appropriation, but the city has yet to hear back, documents show.

Council member Dave Marshick said at the forum that he would vote for the resolution, touting the $23 million economic impact to the city and how it would help the aging Milton Avenue corridor.

“Where else can you get a $50 million project and not have to pay $50 million for it?” Marshick said.

But the project is not without concerns expressed by several others at the forum, primarily who would be paying for it and how much it would cost taxpayers.

First, despite being the primary tenant, the Janesville Jets organization has yet to commit to funding any portion of the project.

Until they do come up with a number, council member Heather Miller said at the forum that she can’t vote for the project.

Another concern is ongoing operational losses. A consultant’s study estimated the project would lose about $46,000 the first year, with losses continuing for at least five years. (See chart below)

Council member Paul Williams, a member of the panel, asked it the project would ever turn a profit.

Finally, members of the panel discussed the impact on taxpayers of a $17.3 million bond issue. That cost would average out to somewhere between $33 and $44 per year for a house assessed at $150,000.

The project includes three elements:

One would be a permanent sheet of ice to replace the city’s current ice arena, with the NAHL’s Janesville Jets and Janesville Youth Hockey being the primary tenents.

There also would be a multi-purpose area which could include a temporary ice sheet and sports area.

A third space would be dedicated to a 20,000-square-foot space to attract conventions that in the past have passed over Janesville because current convention space in the city is too small.

The council meeting begins at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12, 2022 in the council chambers.

To view this meeting live, you may attend in person, watch at https://www.janesvillewi.gov/materials or watch on JATV Channel 994.

Email the entire Council at: citycouncil@ci.janesville.wi.us

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