Hotel “not funded” in 2020 State budget, FNP confirms

The City-sponsored hotel downtown missed out on funding in the short 2019 legislative session when the budget for the following fiscal year is hashed out. Reported here February 27 (see link at end) and on the FoFC Downtown Marriott Watch Facebook page, the news is confirmed in the Frederick News-Post (FNP) today.

Samantha Hogan reports: “Hogan’s proposed $46.6 billion budget invests in education and transportation, while putting aside 6.5 percent of state revenue in a Rainy Day Fund. Highlights of the budget include a 10 percent increase in local transportation aid driven by highway user revenue formulas, a $6.9 billion statewide investment in education and multiple capital investments in roads around Frederick County. One item that is not funded, however, is the proposed hotel and conference center in downtown Frederick.”

Casting this as just the Governor’s budget is somewhat misleading. As detailed in the Maryland Reporter while based heavily on a budget proposed by Governor Hogan January 17th, the budget now being reported is close to the final budget of the General Assembly.  In the seven weeks since the Governor’s budget was released the state House and Senate have been working intensely on it. Reports from Annapolis are that the legislators are close to an agreed budget for submission to the Governor for his signature.  The key House Appropriations Committee, for example, is due to report Friday, March 8.

Normally money for the hotel would be included in local projects supported by ‘bond bills.’ For this budget that category is nailed down without funds for the hotel. Total for the whole state for local bond bills was agreed at $15 million, showing how unreal was the $10.5m being sought by the City of Frederick for the hotel. 

FNP: “Delegate Carol Krimm (D-District 3A), the county delegation’s chairwoman, said that she was disappointed by the lack of money for the hotel and conference center in the governor’s budget, but that she would continue to support the project and work to secure funding for it.”

Truth is that veteran hotel supporters on the delegation (Krimm and the Youngs) knew the hotel was near impossible to fund. So it wasn’t even discussed at any of the Friday meetings of the Frederick delegation. 

Did they even try?

Contrary to the FNP reporting they didn’t seriously try to get state funding.

Mayor Michael O’Connor is quoted: “Our plan is to continue to work with the delegation to do what we can do to secure the funds we need to get the project completed… Five million dollars has already been allocated by the General Assembly, and we need to work through the process to get that money through the Board of Public Works to get that approved.”

The $5m “allocated by the General Assembly” is a previous year’s appropriation which was never drawn on by the City because it cannot get its act together on the hotel. It doesn’t even have an adequate site and is still mulling purchase of the Eagles club site next door. As presently designed the parking garage has no real estate for an access roadway because of the lack of frontage on East Patrick St. No progress is being made on mitigation needed by the state historical trust for the demolition of the Birely Tannery.

Architectural and engineering g design and other studies are on hold pending state funding.

State officials have indicated they consider the $5 million mentioned by the Mayor to be a grant forfeited by the City of Frederick through the project not being taken to the State Board of Public Works in the year in which it was granted.  And Governor Hogan has said flatly: “No state funds will go to the hotel project.”  

Our previous report

http://frederickhotelboondoggle.us/2019/02/hotel-bombs-out-in-2019-session-no-delegation-vote-on-seeking-state-s-as-legislative-session-winds-down/

2019.03.06

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