December 31st, 2013 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: City Hall, Metro, Multnomah County, Business

Convention Center Hotel Opponents: County's Referral Decision is Outrageous

Oregon Convention CenterOregon Convention Center

Although it's not true that Lewis and Clark came here to build a headquarters hotel adjacent to the Oregon Convention Center, the machinations around the long-considered but never-built hotel have seemingly gone on forever.

As WW reported today, there is yet another twist in the path leading to what Metro, which operates the convention center, hopes will be a $200 million, 600-room Hyatt Hotel.

On Dec. 19, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners voted to to rejigger the method by which visitor taxes are collected and allocated among the three government entities that share in the tax: the City of Portland, Metro, and the county.

The purpose of that vote was to allow a novel form of financing for part of the hotel's cost. Metro proposes to issue bonds backed by the visitor taxes generated by the Hyatt. The taxes paid by other hotels go into a general pool, but the Hyatt's taxes will in effect remain on the property. That financing mechanism will account for about $60 million of the proposed $80 million public subsidy.

Opponents of the deal, who are primarily downtown hoteliers, immediately on Dec. 19 said they would refer the county's voter to the 2014 ballot. But since that announcement, Multnomah County Counsel Jenny Madkour determined that because the vote was on an administrative matter it was not referable.

The county officially notified the opponents of that determination today. The opponents now have seven days to decide whether they will appeal Madkour's opinion.

Sandeep Kaushik, a spokesman for the opponents, who call themselves the Coalition for Fair Budget Priorities, says they will certainly appeal.

"We think this is outrageous," Kaushik tells WW. "It's simply a delaying tactic. There's been a near complete lack of transparency in this whole process and we think voters deserve to have a say."

 
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