Following the release of more project details at Monday's City Council meeting, the Libertarian Party of Vanderburgh County announced on Tuesday its formal opposition to the proposed downtown hotel project in Evansville.
Based on information from the Council meeting, the proposal seeks to gift $37.5 million of taxpayer dollars in the form of taxpayer debt to a private investor, HCW, for the construction of the downtown convention hotel and meeting space.
"If it is a good idea the developer will be leading this construction effort without taking $37.5 million from the taxpayers," claimed LPVC Chairman Bart Gadau. "The City of Evansville places a tax upon all innkeepers within city limits. Those fees will ultimately help service the debt of a competitor's investment. That doesn't seem right to us."
Gadau further charges that the numbers put forward by the Winnecke Administration that surround this project seem dubious.
"He claims, for instance, that over 800 construction jobs and over 200 permanent jobs would be created. Yet, when pressed by Councilwoman Robinson, HCW representative Rick Huffman admitted he could not give a true figure for the number of permanent jobs this project will create," Gadau continued. "The waivers built into the current agreement offer no assurance that employment would remain anywhere near that lofty 200 mark. Furthermore, there is nothing stopping this out-of-state developer from selling the property after a few years and pocketing our taxpayer dollars."
Gadau finished, "The Libertarian Party platform has long supported free markets, fiscal responsibility and equity under the laws of the State of Indiana. Unfortunately, those interests are easily clouded when our elected officials misrepresent project facts. In its current incarnation, this project proposal should be abandoned. We urge the Council to vote 'no' on funding this project and encourage Mayor Winnecke and his leadership team to make a more concerted effort to find a private developer willing to build a convention hotel on the site using private funds and of a size suitable for the Evansville market."
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