In a surprising move, The Fayetteville City Council voted 5-4 against borrowing additional money to fund the Prince Charles Holdings (PCH) parking deck downtown.
In short, my prediction in the post below was incorrect.
But this is one time that I’m happy to be mistaken. The mayor and the four other “no” votes should be commended for finally standing up for the taxpayers of Fayetteville. It was a small win for responsible government and fiscal sanity. It also demonstrates the power of shining sunlight on these deals. The local press and the community finally began looking at the fine print. Our elected leaders followed suit. That’s how the process is supposed to work.
So where do we go from here?
Just over a month ago, PCH representatives told the council that they were not certain they could finish the planned Hyatt hotel and offices on top of the deck without the additional money from the city. Well, the council has called their bluff. The current contract price of 14.7 million is still in place and still enforceable.
Time will tell whether the council members will hold this position and whether PCH will honor its contractual obligations.
I have a feeling that this isn’t the end of the story.
Tonight, the Fayetteville City Council will vote to borrow millions more to build a parking deck to service a private corporation while it continues to raise parking rates on the general public downtown.
However, the council will not be up front about it, at least not at first. Instead, we will hear the same lip-service we heard the last time this issue came up, things like:
“We’re not making the decision to spend the money today.”
“We’re just giving ourselves the option in the future by making sure the money’s available.”
“We can always give the money back if we decide not to spend it.”
In other words, you’re going to be lied to. They’ve already calculated the interest on the money they’re going to borrow, to the dollar. It’s a done deal.
In case you’re wondering, it’s going to cost Fayetteville citizens another $2,136,682 to placate Prince Charles Holdings (PCH). Otherwise, they may just pack up their crane and go home, and we can kiss our Hyatt Hotel goodbye. Maybe then we could use the parking deck??
Along those lines, you’ll probably hear from other concerned downtown business owners at tonight’s meeting as well. Apparently, people don’t want to go eat at a restaurant or buy a cup of coffee if they have to pay 10 bucks to park nearby. Who could’ve seen that coming? By the way, there’s seven home baseball games in a row this week. That’s a lot of missed revenue.
Since we’re playing with dollars now, remember that the reason given by the council for charging the public increased parking fees was that Fayetteville was losing approximately $250,000/year in downtown parking. “Free parking isn’t free,” they said.
My son is into division right now and he’s pretty good at it. He might be able to tell you that $250,000 will go into 2 million about eight times.
So…. we could:
- Not give PCH this extra money;
- Keep downtown parking “as is” (mostly free); and
- Remain in the same financial position until 2027.
But we won’t do that. It makes too much sense.
In the end, the council members have already made up their minds, and they are going to give PCH everything it wants. The success (or at least the appearance of success) of this project is too important to them, politically. It’s the tallest albatross in town.
I just wish they’d be up front about it.