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City can't reach agreement on hotel tax funds

ALBANY, Ga. — The Albany City Commission's inability to agree on how to spend an estimated $200,000 in additional funds generated by a proposed 1 percent hotel/motel tax increase has the tax itself in jeopardy.

A staff-recommended proposal to allocate the funds for use in offsetting part of the yearly deficit at which the Albany Civic Center operates (estimated to be around $800,000 a year) received only three votes at a commission work session Tuesday, while an alternate option to allocate $50,000 each for use by the Flint RiverQuarium, the Thronateeska Heritage Center, the Albany Civil Rights Institute and the Civic Center died for lack of a second.

"Option 1 (recommended by staff), gives us more flexibility," Commissioner Bob Langstaff said, and his motion to approve that option got votes from commissioners Tommie Postell and Ivey Hines.

"I think Option 2 follows the legal intent of the state more closely," Commissioner Roger Marietta said, but his motion received no second.

Commissioner Christopher Pike asked Assistant City Manager Wes Smith to add a third option to the mix for next week's night business meeting, one that would create a self-renewing "deal-closing" fund similar to one the city and Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission have created from utilities credits to entice businesses.

Langstaff warned that failure to reach a state-mandated concensus on utilization of the funding could kill the opportunity to increase the tax.

"We've been beating this up for two months now," Postell added. "I'm tired of beating it up. We need to make a decision and move on. We're talking about 1 lousy cent here, and yet we keep going at it like a cat following his tail."

The commission also got one side of a conflict that has arisen between independent data provider L2Networks and the city's Water, Gas & Light Commission. L2's Kraig Beahn told the board his operators had been denied access to WG&L's "Hanover 2 facility" to correct a customer's potentially life-threatening issue.

"We have a contract that allows us access to that facility 24/7," Beahn said. "We were denied access to our equipment to meet the emergency needs of a customer. That incident was cleared up by a WG&L Commissioner (Bob Hutchinson), but it persists.

"Our interest is not to file a lawsuit against the city, but our interest is also to have access to our equipment at this facility, as our contract guarantees."

No WG&L representative attended the meeting.

Despite reservations expressed by Langstaff, the commission voted to give nonbinding approval to an additional $860,000 in special-purpose local-option sales tax funding to Albany Technical College so it could move forward with design and bids on a pedestrian bridge across Slappey Boulevard and an extra $100,000 to the Thronateeska Archive Project for the addition of shelving.

"I think we need to make sure what's being asked for is absolutely necessary," Langstaff said. "I don't believe in this stroking the check and hoping for the best."

City officials noted that certain establishments — Big Daddy's Lounge on East Broad Avenue was mentioned by name — that had required police calls during the past year had been removed from the approved list of alcohol license renewals that will be voted on at next week's meeting. Most establishments were approved for renewal, but Code Enforcement officials said others would receive further scrutiny before a binding vote at next week's meeting.

Approval was given to five one-day alcohol licenses for special events, a license transfer and a new license application.

Comments

FryarTuk 1 year, 8 months ago

" the city and Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission have created from utilities credits to entice businesses. " That pisses me off like one can't believe. That money will be squandered and misused. Millions and millions.

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FryarTuk 1 year, 8 months ago

the commission voted to give nonbinding approval to an additional $860,000 in special-purpose local-option sales tax funding to Albany Technical College so it could move forward with design and bids on a pedestrian bridge across Slappey Boulevard and an extra $100,000 to the Thronateeska Archive Project for the addition of shelving. These are ridiculous projects!!

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Black_Falcon 1 year, 8 months ago

Of course these are ridiculous projects, why else do think they were approved.

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tocar 1 year, 8 months ago

The taxpayers would like to see these monies used for projects to improve existing facilities, streets etc.. We have given enough to the Riverquarium, the Civic Center which is a bottomless pit with no returns, Thornateeska and the Civil Rights Museum. There are improvements needed in East Albany, Slappey Drive and Northwest Albany. Apparently a moron cannot recognize that older locations need improvements. The Riverquarium and the Civic Center are jokes. You need to be on the commission in a city that has a huge tax base. If you are unable to agree on a project, bank the monies until it is needed for emergency situations.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 8 months ago

They have a state mandated dead line or else they cannot raise taxes.

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whattheheck 1 year, 8 months ago

Gee, perhaps we don't need the money if no one seems to know what the plan is.

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43cop 1 year, 8 months ago

Same 'ol same o. They couldn't agree if was raining outside even if there is a 16 inch deficite.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 8 months ago

Shut Big Daddy's down!! It is a public nuisance. It would be good for the area to see it close. Talk to the DA about it. He has the authority to shut it down depending on the number of police reports on the establishment.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 8 months ago

Where would corch get free wifi if they did that??

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Amazed2 1 year, 8 months ago

Heck they just gave $150k to the big fish tank down on Front Street. Only $50k left to fight over.

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Sister_Ruby 1 year, 8 months ago

I guess the disagreement is on the means of pissing it all away when it gets collected. That and whose "consituency" will get access to it.

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 8 months ago

More razzle dazzle by Marietta.

Not in the opinion of the city attorney but only in the mind of Marietta could he claim his option #2 follows the “legal intent of the State”.

Roger should try telling the truth, if he can get his #2 option passed it will GUARANTEE the fishbowl will get a check FOREVER from the city and THAT WOULD BE BY “legal requirement from the State”.

How about this Marietta get your hand out of our pockets and get off your high horse and YOU Personally raise the money to keep your fishbowl afloat. So easy to spend some else’s money.

Money talks and Bull S--tters just take from others……Come on Marietta put YOUR money where YOUR Mouth is.

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KaosinAlbany 1 year, 8 months ago

Watch out! Wonderbread may just reply to your statement. LOL

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 8 months ago

LOL that will be the Day. The "Wonder" doesn't have the backbone to stand up and show how concerned he is with his own money; it is too easy to rob from others. That is why we have to call them commissioners and don’t call them Leaders of Albany

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Abytaxpayer 1 year, 8 months ago

Not to rub salt into his wound but! Where was the “Wonder’s” concern for the fish bowl when Lewallen said "he will BEGIN fundraising efforts immediately" AFTER “Wonder” scammed the taxpayers for another $150,000.oo for Lewallen? So this was the emergency money they have been talking about for months to keep the fishbowl alive and Lewallen has been waiting for “Wonder” to feed him before he would try to feed himself. Give a man a fish and he eats for a day and keeps coming back for more FREE Fish because you never told him to get up and fish for himself. But for the razzle dazzle he has promised to try to fish for himself NOW that he has another pot of FREE fish.

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