Committee takes no action on hotel fee

Confident that the downtown TEE center will eventually get six votes or more, Augusta commissioner Jerry Brigham backed off today on a proposal to eliminate the city’s $1-a-night hotel fee, which was enacted to fund both the trade, exhibit and event center and redevelopment of blighted inner-city neighborhoods.

Mr. Brigham had the idea placed on the Finance Committee meeting agenda after a TEE center funding plan failed by a 5-4-1 vote last week. Citing ongoing dialogue among commissioners since then, he agreed to leave the proposal in committee, as opposed to sending it to the full commission meeting next week for a vote.

Had killing the hotel fee been voted on Monday, the committee would have deadlocked 2-2. Then it wouldn’t have gotten six votes on the commission and would have wound up back in committee anyway, Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Mason pointed out.

City Administrator Fred Russell’s financing plan involved $35 million in bonds to build a $38 million TEE center with a $17 million parking deck and to kick-start redevelopment of the Laney-Walker and Bethlehem neighborhoods.

No voters Corey Johnson and Mr. Mason say they want the parking deck and the creation of a new Urban Redevelopment Authority removed from the plan. Mr. Johnson said today that he wants to increase the bond amount for inner-city revitalization from $9 million to $12.5 million.

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