April 1, 2005
A Senate panel agreed Thursday to create a new level of government to help promote a theme park in Northern Arizona.
The 5-2 vote by the Senate Finance Committee would set up a public improvement district. It would include 1,000 acres on the edge of Williams for a Western-themed park, performing arts pavilion and a Renaissance fair as well as 60 acres in west Phoenix for a smaller theme park.
The bill would allow a special 9 percent sales tax to be levied.
The proceeds would be pledged to repay investors who buy bonds that the district would be allowed to sell. Jay Heiler, lobbyist for the project, conceded that the sales tax is necessary to get people to buy those bonds.
Sen. Ken Cheuvront, DPhoenix, said the state should not be creating special mechanisms to help private businesses get investment.
"At the end of the day, if this was a viable project, the market would come out and finance it,’’ he said.
Scottsdale developers in 1999 attempted to use nowrepealed, theme-park funding for the Canals of Scottsdale project.
The law would have allowed the developers to recapture up to 30 percent of a project’s costs to pay for public improvements.
Scottsdale voters eventually voted the project down.