MILWAUKEE -- In the years to come, a number of Milwaukee attractions will need major repairs. One group has looked at a number of options to pay for those projects, and the group says the best option might be a sales tax increase.
The next act for Milwaukee's arts and cultural attraction took center stage on Monday, October 26th at the Marcus Center. The performing arts center is one of the places in need of future funding.
Eighteen months ago, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) put together a large task force to come up with ways to pay for needed improvements at the Marcus Center, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Milwaukee County Zoo and public parks.
"If we want to attract millennials, which are gonna make up 75 percent of the world`s workforce in the next 10 years, Milwaukee has got to be able to compete with the work space, as well as the live, work, learn, and play space," Tim Sheehy, MMAC president said.
The task force has now come back with some suggestions -- indicating the most viable option for an estimated $250 million worth of maintenance and improvements is a sales tax increase in Milwaukee County.
MMAC officials say this isn't a formal proposal, but a starting point.
"Public funding is declining and we need to find an answer, but it`s premature to jump to an answer right now," Sheehy said.
With state and local officials recently approving public funding for a new Milwaukee Bucks arena in downtown Milwaukee, supporters of the cultural attractions say it's all part of a bigger transformation of the city.
"If we put together a cultural vision that tells the broader story, then you`re gonna get people excited about what we have here and that is in conjunction with what`s happening with the arena," Deanna Tillisch, president of the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF) said.
And those supporters say make no mistake, the city is at the heart of that transformation.
"How many of you can name your great favorite city? And how many of you have been to that city because of the suburbs?" Dan Keegan, director of the Milwaukee Art Museum said.
Supporters say if we don't invest in arts and culture, the curtain will close on a great opportunity.
Sheehy says there's no rush to approve a funding plan for these different attractions. He says officials are looking at a two-year timeline before making a decision on how to pay for any improvements.