Those in support of millions of dollars worth of enhancement projects to PNC Arena and other facilities will have to keep the champagne on ice. At least for now.
In order to release revenue from a special tax on Wake County hotels, restaurants, and bars, the Raleigh City Council and Wake County Board of Commissioners have to agree on every detail outlined in what is called the Interlocal Agreement, or ILA. While the boards share broad agreement on the ILA, the county on Monday added a detail that would mandate shared final approval of a future parking deck project. When the city council approved the ILA Tuesday, it stripped that part back out, leaving final approval of a future parking deck solely with the city.
In the balance are tourism related projects like a Raleigh Convention Center expansion and enhancements to PNC Arena. These projects won't get their funding until both local governing bodies agree.
There's a special tax on hotel nights and prepared food in Wake County. That tax now generates $60 million per year. Funds from this tax must go to projects that promote tourism in the county. The idea being that as more tourists come to the county, they will then spend nights in hotels and eat out, creating a virtuous cycle. The tax has broad support from hotel and restaurant owners.
The Interlocal Agreement
The discrepancy comes deep in the Interlocal Agreement. One of the smaller provisions is that beginning in fiscal year 2023, a maximum of $2.2 million will be available annually to support a parking deck that is intended to attract another hotel – something city and county leaders have long said is necessary in order to see tourism in Raleigh grow. There isn't enough hotel capacity to attract major annual meetings or other events to Raleigh, and a new hotel would add capacity.
The parking deck section stipulates that the city and county managers would work together to make a final recommendation on the parking deck, but leaves it up to only the city council for final approval. The county, at the direction of Commissioner Vickie Adamson, wanted to also have a say in the deck, and on Monday added that they also needed to approve the parking deck.
On Tuesday, the city council approved everything, except stripped out the county's stipulation that it also approve the parking deck.
The County Commissioners will again meet Sept. 3. They could consider approving the revised ILA then.