Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Richland County Council made a bold statement investing close to 40 million dollars to build a water park and sports arena and its all in parts of the county that aren't in the City of Columbia.
"As we look at the Hospitality Tax its about trying to attract people to this county and spend more dollars to create more revenue for the county," said Councilman Torrey Rush.
The City of Columbia and Richland County both have hospitality taxes on prepared food. The county's cut is about 5 million a year.
Council voted 10-1 approving the construction of a 20 million dollar water park on Farrow Road.
The water park is in Councilman Rush's district and he says it's a smart investment; one being the county already owns the land.
"We are not looking for additional property we own this property and to be able to utilize it for a project like this, I think is the right thing to do."
The park is estimated to bring in anywhere from two to four million dollars a year.
Hawaii Falls a company out of Texas has already offered to operate the water park and cover all operating costs.
Council also voted 10-1 to construct a 16 million dollar Sports Arena on Bluff Road.
Councilman Kelvin Washington says it would house multiple basketball and volleyball courts and would be a great venue for tournaments.
"It's near the interstate and not too far from hotels and restaurants. And think about the economic impact in that community, you think about the restaurants that will pop up just round that corridor just because that facility is there," said Washington.
The project is projected to bring in about $600,000 a year.
Councilman Seth Rose was the only member to vote against both projects. He says council doesn't know how much it will cost to operate the facilities and doesn't think its a smart investment.
"If we cannot cover the bills then will have to cover them with our general fund which is our property tax account, which is what we fund essential services on a day to day basis with, public safety, ems, fire and so if you don't know what the bills are how can you argue that its going to be successful."
There is a final step for the major developments, it will be sent to a committee to come up with a funding plan.
Council did vote down some items... there was a proposal to build a swimming pool on Garners Ferry Road for two million dollars and two amphitheatres for four million dollars.
Those items did not pass.