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Tax Dollars and Sense
Last week, Metro moved forward a proposal to use taxpayer dollars to partially fund the construction of a Hyatt hotel near the Oregon Convention Center. Evidently, there is not a high quality hotel with enough capacity near the Convention Center to bring in the big-ticket conventions, so Portland gets skipped over time and time again.
The current proposals on the table are from Mortenson Development/Hyatt Hotels. The proposals range from $157-$200 million to build the hotel, and they are proposing a taxpayer subsidy of $10.3-$36.1 million. Additionally, they are asking for a “reinvestment” of 11.5% of their 12.5% lodging tax over 30 years.
This is a big investment for the public to make. How will Portlanders be guaranteed to make a return on investment? What if Portland continues to get skipped over for conventions because of increased competition and/or an overall trend away from conventions? Even assuming that we get an increase in convention attendees in Portland, how long will it take for the public to recoup the investment if the city isn’t charging the full lodging tax?
And finally—and perhaps most contentiously— does Hyatt really need public financing in order to make this project a reality?
These are important questions that need to be answered before any project proposal gets approved. Public dollars are being stretched thin these days, so every penny spent needs to be fully justified.
To read Metro's staff report go here: http://library.oregonmetro.gov/editor/occ_staff_report_090412.pdf
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