A tax incentive to build an 80-room hotel on the southern edge of Ottawa is in the hands of the developer.
The Franklin County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 Wednesday to rebate 3 percent of the transient guest tax money generated by the Holiday Inn Express & Suites for 10 years. The rebate will be capped at $600,000. Commissioners Colton Waymire, Rick Ogelsby, Roy Dunn and Randy Renoud approved the rebate, while Rick Howard opposed it.
The county assesses a 6 percent charge to all hotel/motel receipts for the transient guest tax. The TGT fund is used primarily to promote tourism in the county and run the Visitors Information Center, 2011 K-68, Ottawa.
The area the developer has designs on is the vacant lot south of H&R Block, 2334 S. Princeton St., on the west side of Princeton Avenue. It is right next to I-35.
Renoud sees the proposal as a win-win situation.
“We can’t lose, we can only gain,” he said. “We are not spending any transient guest tax money on it ... we are not getting as much as we would normally be getting. We got a few perks out of it. It is good for the county. It is good for growth.”
The agreement is between the county and Ottawa Lodging, LLC, which is owned by developer, Mike Works, Lincoln, Nebraska.
Howard is not against the hotel being built, but felt the county gave too much of an incentive, he said.
“I talked to a city in Nebraska that had this same developer [build a hotel],” he said. “They done it without giving up any of their transient guest tax. That is where I was coming from. It is not a bad use of transient guest tax by any means. The hotel will be generating the money that is going back to them.”
The way the agreement is written, the hotel will receive half of the transient guest tax they generate and will be capped, Renoud said. He added there will be other benefits from the hotel being built.
“We had two influences: the meeting room — which may or may not be a big issue — and the location,” he said. “They might have gone east instead of west. It is a blighted area. There will be a road going in that other businesses can use. The Proximity Park [site selectors] are going to be impressed with that type of [facility]. I can see both sides. The perks were better than the negatives.”
Dunn, who in February was against using TGT money as an incentive, changed to a “yes” vote because of the positives the project will bring to the area, he said.
The agreement spells out free use of the proposed 1,200- to 1,500-square-foot meeting room for the governing bodies of the city of Ottawa, the county and Central Heights, Ottawa, Wellsville and West Franklin school districts.
The agreement is not an obligation for the developer to construct the project. If the developer has not started construction within two years, the county could terminate the rebate.