Comment on claim that conference center “privately financed”

Don Burgess calls it a proposed private financing of the conference center (CC) on the basis that private individuals and private entities will buy the state stadium authority’s bonds issued on behalf of the CC. By that logic our schools, hospitals and roads built by public entities are privately financed if state and county debt is issued to fund them. Who but private entities in the end buy any government debt? And aren’t taxes paid by the private sector? Burgess-logic would also call police services privately financed since private persons pay the taxes needed to pay the cops each month. By Burgess-think there is no such thing as a public sector or public financing. By word fudging he tries to define the issue away. Burgess is also confused about the proposed Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) funding. It is proposed as loans to the City, not to Plamondon. MSA is not allowed to lend to private entities. As for his designation of the CC as a private project the City’s ‘Project Overview One-Pager’ on the hotel on the City website calls the meeting space/conference center portion a “Public Project” and includes the CC in a table of $31m of “Public Project Costs.” It is true that for a long time the mayor and other city officials did call the CC a private project, but they have recently flipped and now call it public. The Maryland Stadium Authority has been saying that a condition of any loan to the City for the CC is that the City own the land on which it is built, and that the City be “solely responsible for all expenditures relating to the operation of the Downtown Frederick Conference Facility that may be incurred, including operating deficits.” (lines 8-11, p9 of HB1474) The City has to take responsibility for CC losses, and it is no longer able to deny that. This makes it very much a public sector project. And since the hotel operator will have the use of the facility it is pure corporate welfare. We the taxpayers foot the bills and take the risk of losses on an ‘upscale’ facility to be used mainly by the corporate set. I say that’s an outrage, and the word fudging only compounds it. P Samuel

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