Kent County is going to stick residents with the bill in 2008 for bond payments on the DeVos Place convention center in downtown Grand Rapids. The county government issued two rounds of bonds totaling $93 million for the convention center with the promise that the payments would be covered by the county-wide hotel-motel tax. That promise was made by touting a long-term trend of 7% in the annual growth in revenue collected by that tax. But that was a bit disingenuous because, by the time the bonds were issued in 2001 and 2003, that growth had stopped and revenues were in decline.
Now the hotel-motel tax can't cover the convention center bill. So instead of out-of-towners, presumably flocking here to go to events at DeVos Place, we locals get to pay for the bricks and mortar that promoters get to use to turn a profit. So remind me. Why was this convention center such a good deal for us working and living in River City? I see why promotors like it. They get to pay a discounted rental rate for DeVos Place. The taxpayers, whether hotel guests or local residents, are subsidizing their events by paying for the place hosting them. When do we get our cut of the action?