Hibbing’s 11/30/21 City Council meeting was to discuss expanding the Memorial Arena. Referenced research was a 2018 document containing 2016 data. It’s asserted to be an Economic Impact Study implying if the city spends exhorbitant dollars this project could have a positive economic impact. It doesn’t consider the impact of Virginia’s event center, the uncertainty of the local economy, and it doesn’t represent the voice of all.

Hibbing paid ARI for concept drawings. Egregious, on 12/1/21, five councilors ratified purchasing four properties towards this expansion. Purchase-price: $470,000+, at least double fair market value. A property owner offer-letter was sole documentation. No appraisals, no contract, no consideration of unknown costs, no regard of future property tax implications associated with a $40,000,000 project.

Where’s the public voice? What tax increases can ‘average residents’ tolerate? What are utilization rates and projected demands of local recreational facilities? Will all benefit? Other options? With today’s rising costs can Hibbing taxpayers afford another tax increase?

Without appraisals and data to answer these questions, the emotional December decision must be rescinded. Informed decisions require thorough analyses.

This transaction silenced the voters. Building community takes more than opinions of administrators, elected officials, editors, and interest groups. Negative? Absolutely not. Pragmatic! Costly decisions require facts. The deep-seeded Hibbing-stigma must be broken to unite Hibbing and drive progress.

This proposed expansion should be placed on November’s ballot. Let our voices be heard and our votes be counted. Let Hibbing’s taxpayers decide where our tax dollars will be spent.

Karl Collier

Hibbing

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