Public hearing to be held on leasing out of Bossier Civic Center

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Wayne Hogue, owner of the civic center’s concession stand Primo Concessions, discusses the leasing out of the Bossier Civic Center with the city council. (Stacey Tinsley/Press-Tribune)

An objection filed regarding the lease of the Bossier Civic Center will lead to a public meeting about the proposed plan for the city’s event center.

At Tuesday’s Bossier City Council meeting, the Bossier City Council will hold a public meeting later this month regarding an ordinance declaring the Civic Center as surplus and a 10-year lease of the center.

The appraised value of the civic center is $352,000 per year. Any lease would include the facility’s continued designation as an emergency special needs shelter and take into account some annual city events and for-profit events.

The city’s argument for the move is that the center’s operating costs results in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.

Wayne Hogue, owner of the civic center’s concession stand Primo Concessions, said he filed the objection. He explained that although the Civic Center loses money, the loss is not as large as it seems.

“Three years ago, the salaries were about $370,000 and today they are about $100,000. So that $500,000 (loss) is down to about $200,000. The events that are (run by the) city and city-sponsored (would cost) about $150,000 to $180,000,” Hogue said. “The civic center is showing a cash loss on the income statement, but if you figure in everything the civic center does, it’s going to break even.”

He argued that the civic center brings in millions in economic activity.

“If the civic center does $20 million in economic activity, that’s $1 million in sales taxes that Bossier gets off that activity. Even on top of that, I know that Bossier City gets hotel/motel tax money and state tourism money to cover things like the civic center. The Bossier civic center isn’t losing money. Never has. It is an absolute cash asset for the City of Bossier City,” he added.

The council also heard a public comment from David Jones, former District 4 Bossier City councilman. 

“I would like to commend you for exploring your options. You can play the shell game with the numbers, but the bottom line is as far back in 1997 we found out that we were subsidizing it to the point with enough money to borrow a wet mule. And, we realized we had to do something. That’s when we went to Baton Rouge to add the civic center to the allowable usages on the tax money. We did that because we were subsidizing the general fund,” Jones explained. “We had to get that off our back. Like I said it’s a shell game. Please keep going forward and exploring your options.”

The public hearing will be held at the next Bossier City regular meeting on Feb. 18.

Final adoption of the ordinance would be March 3.