Healthy debate is how good decisions are made and how all voices are heard. When it comes to the downtown convention hotel, find the facts in the latest blog post by Mayor Sly James: http://kcmayor.org/blog/no-time-for-politics We’ve outlined a few here:
CLAIM: This downtown hotel project is estimated to take $167,000,000 in taxpayer’s cash, land and freebies.
FACT: There are four ways the City is investing in this project.
1) $35 million dollars in NON-general fund dollars, allocated from the existing Convention & Tourism tax revenue which exists specifically to support tourism.
2) Land transferred from the City’s ownership, to the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority (LCRA). The land is currently a parking lot that generates no tax dollars.
3) Catering rights will be managed and determined by hotel.
4) Tax Increment Financing (TIF) proceeds to offset some project costs. These dollars are generated by the hotel itself.
– – –
CLAIM: So far the City and the developers have elected to keep the partners, investors and financing details secret.
FACT: Since 2015, there have been no fewer than 20 public meetings about this project, including: Seven meetings prior to passage by City Council in July 2015 followed by three meetings to debate the initial petition initiative. Subsequently, meetings before the TIF Commission, LCRA, two zoning department meetings, as well as public presentations before the Downtown Council, and the Crossroads Neighborhood Association.
Every stage of this project has been executed in the public manner required. Currently, the financing structure of the deal is being worked on by the investors and developers. These are the terms negotiated between private investors and are not subject to public review until they are completed. The City’s terms have been laid out and are known. However, the current referendum process has slowed, and threatens, the progress made towards finalizing the financing structure.
– – –
CLAIM: Taxpayers should have a say in the matter since we are footing over 50% of the $300,000,000 price tag.
FACT: This is categorically false. The City’s investment is limited and strategic, and will provide targeted resources at different stages of the project. At no point will half the project be funded by the City, or taxpayer dollars. The TIF dollars to be used in this project, do not exist and will not exist unless the hotel is built, generating new tax revenue.
– – –
CLAIM: The previous effort to petition failed in court, and the judge has since been proven wrong.
FACT: Their attempt to stop this project in 2015 resulted in a lawsuit which they lost. The court said, among other things, that their initiative petition was unconstitutional on its face and overly vague. The judge in that case was not “proven wrong”, the Supreme Court of Missouri never reversed the judge’s decision, they simply changed the procedure going forward.