One long-time pet project of the Metropolitan "Service" District is the establishment of a Headquarters Hotel to complement their money-losing Oregon Convention Center. Metro claims that a massive new hotel will fulfill all of the usual Metro promises: "spur development", "attract conventions", "create jobs", "boost the economy", blah, blah, and blah. That's exactly what they promised when they wanted to double the size of the convention center, but voters shot that down in 2009. So they built it anyway. The convention center now loses only $10 million a year.
Now, how did they find the money to build the expansion after voters turned them down? Well, they got together with the usual suspects: Vera Katz over at the City of Porkland, and the Mean Grrlz then running the show at Multnomah County. They cobbled together an InterGovernmental Agreement to produce a Visitor Development Fund, then imposing increased taxes on local hotels and car rental companies to funnel cash into the VDF.
Given that cash will rain down like manna from heaven if only they can get that coveted convention center headquarters hotel, the brain-trust over at Metro now wants to "restructure" the IGA so that they can get their hands on that bucket of money. By"investing" a few tens of millions of dollars into another one of those ever-so-successful "Public-Private Partnerships", the dreams of the Metro cabal will finally be realized.
But they've run into some opposition:
“It appears that the taxpayers are taking all the risks and getting none of the profit, and we don’t think that’s a good deal for anyone,” says Paige Richardson, who represents a number of hotels in Portland, including the Benson, deLuxe, Governor, Hilton, Lucia, Mark Spencer and Paramount. The Asian-American Hotel Owners Association also is part of the coalition.
According to Richardson, the opponents are prepared to refer the project to the voters if the Metro Council approves it.
It might slow them down, but as Metro's demonstrated before, they'll do whatever it takes to get their hands on your wallet.