EDMOND — Two “no” votes stopped a recommendation from the Capital Projects and Financing Task Force to spend more than $2.2 million of capital project money to purchase land for a hotel and conference center.
Task force members Steve Auchter and Matt Burns said they are against spending city tax money on what they call a private enterprise. The motion failed.
The request before the task force was to transfer $2,203,494 from the capital project account to the real property fund. The transfer would actually be a reimbursement to the real property fund because city council members purchased the 7.13 acres on April 25.
Assistant City Manager Steve Commons said the council proceeded with the purchase because the timing of the transaction did not allow an opportunity for review by the capital projects task force.
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 as three corners of Covell Road and Interstate 35 are developed.
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.
Burns said he opposed the overall project, and a vote on the transfer of money would validate the project.
“We are helping out a private company and I don't necessarily agree with that,” Auchter said.
Capital projects task force members only make recommendations to city council members, who will make a final decision Monday.
City officials have signed a series of agreements that would give Edmond a full-service hotel and conference center and a sports complex. They have agreed to spend $11 million for land for the hotel, conference center and sports complex, infrastructure improvements and a $4.8 million investment in the construction of the conference center.
Commons said the purchase of the hotel and conference center land almost depleted the real property fund which is the interest from the hospital trust fund. The interest is set aside to purchase land for the city.
Council members also will consider Monday purchasing 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 Street, a building to be torn down to make room for the new public safety center.