Costly improvements for the OnCenter

The Onondaga County War Memorial needs a new roof and a number of other improvements, but county lawmakers have been grappling with how to pay for them. Wednesday, the members of the County Ways and Means Committee approved a plan to charge special fees to those who use the OnCenter complex.

In doing so, they rejected a proposal to place a dollar surcharge on tickets to Syracuse Crunch hockey games. Such a surcharge would have paid for a new $750-thousand dollar scoreboard at the War Memorial ice arena. "To have a surcharge on the Crunch for a scoreboard is very unfair." said Legislature Chairman Bill Meyer.

By opting instead for a user fee, legislator Kevin Holmquist said property taxpayers would be spared the cost of the scoreboard and other capital improvements at the OnCenter. The user fee would be charged to organizations that use the OnCenter for theater performances, trade shows, concerts, and hockey games.

The amount of the user fee will be determined in future meeting with income OnCenter CEO Terri Teonnies. The full legislature votes on the idea on April 7th.