EDMOND — City council members unanimously agreed to use $2.2 million in capital projects money to buy land for a hotel and conference center, despite the lack of a recommendation from the Capital Projects and Financing Task Force.
The need to purchase 7.13 acres of land at Covell Road and Interstate 35 did not allow time for the request to go through the Capital Projects and Financing Task Force, the board that approves disbursement of the 2000 sales tax money designated for capital improvements.
City council members made the purchase with money from the real property fund with the intention of putting capital projects money back into the real property fund.
Task Force members Steve Auchter and Matt Burns voted against the transfer of money. They said they are against spending city tax money on what they call a private enterprise.
The task force's vote to transfer the money failed because not all members were present and five yes votes were needed for approval. The task force only makes recommendations; final decisions are made by the city council.
Assistant City Manager Steve Commons said Auchter and Burns have “philosophical concerns” about using city money to help build a conference center.
“They have historically not been in favor of the project,” Commons said. “The majority is in favor of it.”
Capital task force members earlier recommended budgeting $11 million for the project, which city officials think will bring economic development opportunities and additional sales tax money to Edmond.
City, chamber and business leaders think Edmond needs a conference center. There have been at least four studies on the need for a conference center and decades of talk about the possibilities.
Also Monday, council members delayed until a future meeting the purchase of land at 1273 N Broadway for a new home for the information technology department. The purchase price is $735,000 and would come out of the real property fund.
Part of the information technology department is located in the administration offices at 100 E First St., a building to be torn down to make room for the new public safety center.
Council members voted this week to demolish the city administration building on the southeast corner of First Street and Littler Avenue, where the public safety center will be built.
They also agreed to tear down city-owned buildings at Tammy's Laundry, 28 E Hurd; an antiques store at 15 N Littler, the bank drive-thru behind city hall, 25 E First St., and the former animal welfare at 30 W Third St.