Butler County Times Gazette
  • Letter to the Editor: Feels hotel process is shameful

  • There has been no discussion of what the city wants/needs.
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  • To the Gazette -
     
    Like most business people, on hotel projects I develop wants and needs, invest capital, guarantee everything, and sometimes receive incentives if risk and reward are out of balance. This is a sequential plan - it is not unique.
    In the proposed Augusta hotel deal, there has been no discussion of what the city wants/needs. We have skipped straight to ‘how much will the city give”. The developer has asked for literally everything possible for as long as possible, except free utilities. If you meet them in the middle, have you won for the taxpayers? If you don’t know what you want, how are you going to negotiate in the upcoming work session? The PROCESS is shameful.
    In my opinion, this deal is bad for taxpayers, sets a terrible precedent and was/is handled poorly. It is bad because a best case market valuation based on the (very optimistic) numbers is way below the cost to build figures – it’s worth less than what you paid. Incentives don’t solve this, they prolong the inevitable. It was handled poorly by being in a hurry and going straight to the incentive discussion with a take it or leave it attitude. Just say No – have some pride.
    To the Mayor - Make your case for why I am wrong, not what I have received from other cities. (And calling other cities and people and spreading misinformation is a dangerous path). What is the need and why is this the best deal? Why is a hotel, versus alternatives worth all this? All I have heard as reason for doing this is:
    we want a hotel to stash our in-laws (FYI hotels survive on business travelers)
    we are worried about the tiny dollars spent at Andover/etc hotels (but not worried about the real money spent at other out of town places)
    we will get three new restaurants (good luck based on the 33 people/night in the hotel projections)
    the other hotels are run-down (first maybe understand why this is so)
    If needed, I hope Augusta gets a nice hotel, believe we will have to give it some incentives, and I won’t be involved. I am not against anything or anyone other than this specific deal.
    Good Luck.
     
    Tim Johnson
    Augusta
     

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