It’s a good thing the city of Wichita Falls is seeing an increased sales tax and property tax values since city leaders say those funds will help support one of the city’s most expensive budget items, the Multi-Purpose Event Center.
The city spends more $1 million per year on subsidies to run the MPEC. Now, city leaders say they are having to increase subsidies since revenue is down, something they hope will change in the near future.
The Ranch Roundup is one of the most popular events the MPEC hosts every year, bringing in folks from across Texoma and the nation, but even though the facility will see a bump in foot traffic this weekend revenue is down, something Wichita Falls Councilor Eric West believes should be expected since he said the MPEC was not built to turn a profit.
“That’s a big misconception among our citizens,” West said. “They think it is supposed to be a money-making operation and it is, but it is supposed to bring in the outside money.”
West said that’s because when people come to attend events they spend money in the city.
“MPEC is a community asset that allows us to bring millions of dollars of outside money for conventions and other events. That money gets spent around our local economy and has a huge impact on us,” West said.
That’s why city leaders are moving ahead with plans to build a hotel convention center at the MPEC.
“The biggest reason for that increased subsidy and decline in business, if you will, is loss of convention and conferences. So that ties directly back to those facilities and whether or not you have that onsite full-service hotel,” said Darron Leiker, Wichita Falls city manager.
Leiker said not only will the hotel help the city secure future events, it will also be a welcome addition for those who attend events such as Ranch Roundup, like Tom Palmer from Pueblo, Colorado.
“Yeah that would be very convenient. Well it would. Sometimes it’s not always easy to get around town here,” Palmer said
Leiker says the city can use the money they are currently spending on subsidies– in other ways.
“Generally, it would mean there is less pressure on future tax increases and as you know we have a lot of needs here with employee pay and infrastructure needs, so it would free up money to address those kinds of issues,” Leiker said.
City leaders hope to break ground on the facility soon with a planned opening in 2020.
Also, to help reduce subsidies, Spectra, the company managing the MPEC, is in the process of hiring a marketing employee to help bring in sponsors and recruit conventions and events like the Ranch Roundup.