Letter to the Editor: Hotel plan raises questions
Friday, May 24, 2019
The Rocky Mount city manager and City Council want the citizens to contribute $27 million on top of the $50 million already committed to the Event Center (RMEC).
This time, taxpayers are to “pay” a private “investor” to build a hotel with retail space, market rate condos along with a 700-space parking deck.
Operational for nine months, we do not even know if the RMEC will meet projections. Part of these projections include $1.5 million in revenue for parking the first five years so where/how will the $1.5M be recouped? The City Council announced plans to replace designated Tarboro Street parking with work force housing on land that’s deemed contaminated. Ironically the Tarboro Housing project is needed to be in place for the city to attain New Market Tax Credits to fund the hotel project. This brings into question this council’s true motivation for affordable housing downtown or is it a catalyst for more tax credits? Let’s not forget the Tarboro Street plan will also negate contracts/promises with Self Help, Edgecombe Community College, Century Link and those truly investing in revitalizing downtown.
This new plan has been formed under the cloak of darkness with no public input. The project will require a city-wide tax increase in addition to expanding the special downtown tax district increasing the tax burden on downtown property owners. If affordable housing is needed, then why give millions of dollars to a for profit business?
The city commissioned an engineering analysis of the water, sewer and stormwater utilities, which preliminary results have projected $62.3 million of unmet needs in repairs and replacement cost. This is pennies compared to the true need. The Event Center and this hotel/parking deck expense will pale in comparison to the infrastructure needs. We cannot ignore the impact of an inadequate and aging water and sewer system.
City Council’s actions shows they care little about the true needs of our citizens and are determined to saddle our city with debt on pet projects and apparent self-dealing. We need leadership that will listen to the citizens, treat people with respect, truly help people and not use them as pawns, be stewards of taxpayer money, ask tough thoughtful questions and be visionaries encouraging private investment. Please speak up and make your voices heard. There are plenty of qualified and caring people running for mayor and City Council so please stay informed and vote on Oct. 8.
Lige Daughtridge, candidate for Ward 5 City Council seat