Written by Phil Cerroni
A last ditch effort to add $410,000 for a Dallas Cowboys stadium suite into the City’s budget failed to earn enough City Council votes for passage at a meeting on Sep. 27.
The Council voted 4-5 for the amendment that would have earmarked $410,000 for the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce to pay for a Cowboys suite.
Council members Rose Cannaday, Mike Gallaway, Roy Santoscoy and Dennis Webb voted for the amendment. Mayor Beth Van Duyne,and Council members Joe Putnam, Brad LaMorgese, Gerald Farris and Thomas Spink voted against.
The money comes from the three-sided billboards at the old Texas Stadium site, which generate about $600,000 annually through a contract with Clear Channel. Of the total revenue, the City receives about $400,000.
In previous years, the City has used that money to pay for a Cowboys suite, an expense that some say helps the city snap up business.
But others disagree with the use of public funds to lease the suite.
“This was a very contentious issue out in the community,” Mayor Beth Van Duyne said. “A lot of people had complaints and as a representative body of the public, it is our job to represent those people and do what we believe is the right thing.”
Responding to the community criticism, the Chamber’s 2013 budget proposal did not include a request for the $410,000.
“It’s important that the public sees a unified Council and Chamber when it comes to business retention and support of our small businesses,” Chris Wallace, president and CEO of the Chamber, told the City Council. “We don’t want to do anything to create divisiveness among the Council.”
But Webb, who voted to restore the funds to the Chamber’s budget, said the Chamber was pushed into bringing the Council a budget that excluded the $410,000 expense.
“The bottom line is they had pressure on them to take that out of the budget,” he said.
Without help from the City, the Chamber could either use private funds or slash other expenses to keep leasing the suite.
The budget for fiscal year 2013, which started Monday, Oct. 1, passed 6-3. Webb, Putnam and Santoscoy voted against passage.
Under the new budget, property taxes will stay the same and residents will not see a hike in water, sewer or trash rates.