Here’s Vic Kolenc (I thought he took the early retirement option?) reporting on the Great Wolf Swindle in the El Paso Times:
City leaders may have a tough time getting state officials to approve their plan to get up to $40 million in state hotel and sales tax rebates to help Great Wolf Resorts pay for its proposed $150 million-plus hotel, convention center, and indoor water park resort complex in West El Paso.
The problem is the 12,000-square-foot convention center, which is to be part of the proposed Great Wolf Lodge resort in West El Paso, is too small to qualify as a convention center under the state convention center and hotel tax rebate program, said William Hamner, special counsel for tax administration at the Texas comptroller’s office in Austin, which administers the program.
Yeah, the Great Wolf Convention Center is a little rinky dink meeting room, pretending to be a convention center to hoodwink El Paso taxpayers.
But size isn’t the only thing that matters.
Under current guidelines and the still pending new rules, restaurants, stores, and various other eligible facilities built as part of the hotel project, and within 1,000 feet of the convention center, also could qualify for state tax rebates. That does not include existing facilities that were not built or remodeled as part of the hotel development, according to the new rules.
That means sales taxes generated in the existing West Town Marketplace, across the street from the proposed Great Wolf resort site, wouldn’t fall within the rebate program, as city officials had indicated.
The resolution passed by our illustrious City Council (aka, Den of Thieves) specifically promises sales tax rebates from the West Towne Market Place.
Destination Tourism Grant
(a) If the [State Convention Center Hotel Program] does not apply to the Project, then the City will provide a grant (each, a “Destination Tourism Grant”) to Great Wolf Resorts for each of the Ten SCCHP Years equal to $4,000,000.00 (for a total of $40,000,000.00 over the Ten SCCHP Years).
(b) If the SCCHP applies to the Project and the entire West Towne Market Place Shopping Center is treated as an ancillary facility pursuant to the SCCHP with respect to the Project, then the Destination Tourism Grant shall be zero dollars each year.
(c) If (i) the SCCHP applies to the Project, but less than the entire West Towne Market Place Shopping Center is treated as an ancillary facility pursuant to the SCCHP with respect to the Project, and (ii) for a particular one of the Ten SCCHP Years the aggregate West Towne Market Place GRant Amount is $4,000,000.00 or more, then the Destination Tourism Grant for such particular year shall be equal to zero dollars.
(d) If (i) the SCCHP applies to the Project but less than the entire West Towne Market Place Shopping Center is treated as an ancillary facility pursuant to the SCCHP with respect to the Project, and (ii) for a particular one of the Ten SCCHP Years the aggregate West Towne Market Place Grant Amount is less than $4,000,000.00, then the Destination Tourism Grant for such particular year shall be equal to (A) $4,000,000.00 minus (B) the aggregate West Towne Market Place Grant Amount actually received by Great Wolf Resorts for such particular year.
As I’ve said before, there’s no way the State Comptroller will allow that TJ Maxx or PetSmart, two of the stores in the West Towne Market Place Shopping Center, are “ancillary” to the Great Wolf Resort. Under the new rules, any existing facility won’t count. The City’s plan all along was to give Great Wolf Resorts $40 million to build that hotel water park. The City was just hiding their true intentions behind that State Convention Center Hotel Program smokescreen.
The City lies. The Mayor lies. The City Attorney lies.
Lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies, lies.
They think we’re too stupid to notice, or too apathetic to care.
Maybe they’re right.