Opponents of Sacramento arena subsidy aiming for special election

Published: Thursday, May. 30, 2013 - 11:35 am
Last Modified: Tuesday, Sep. 3, 2013 - 5:38 pm

Opponents of a public subsidy for a new downtown sports arena are seeking to put the issue before voters in a special election.

The campaign behind the initiative - called Sacramento Taxpayers Opposed to Pork - notified the city clerk's office on Wednesday that it intends to gather signatures for the Voter Approval for Public Funding of Professional Sports Arena Act. The city attorney's office now has two weeks to write a ballot summary before the campaign can begin collecting signatures.

City Clerk Shirley Concolino said the group will need valid signatures from 15 percent of registered voters in the city - about 33,000. The campaign will also need to collect a buffer of several thousand more to account for invalid signatures and duplicates.

Those signatures would need to be filed with county elections officials by mid-July, giving the campaign just a few weeks.

STOP wants the public subsidy of the planned sports arena put before the voters. The campaign said the city, facing cuts to public services, cannot afford to subsidize the arena project.

The plan for the $447 million arena at Downtown Plaza calls for a public contribution of $258 million, most of it generated by revenue bonds backed by downtown parking spaces and garages.

Concolino said conducting a special election would cost the city between $1.3 million and $1.5 million from its general fund budget, which pays for most core services. City spokeswoman Amy Williams said that expense "is not currently budgeted."

"A special election would be very expensive for the city to finance and the funds would need to come from the economic uncertainty reserves," Williams said.

Call The Bee's Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at sacbee.com/citybeat. Follow him on Twitter @ryan_lillis.

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