YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The repayment plan for Youngstown’s only hotel has been put on hold after one councilwoman stopped it from coming to a vote.
An ordinance brought before city council would allow the city to create a new payment plan with the DoubleTree Hotel, resulting in the hotel paying the city back a total of $845,128 over the next 25 years. The hotel would have to make interest payments of $8,451 on January 1 and July 1 for five years, beginning July 1, 2023. Then, beginning in 2028, it will pay $25,738 twice a year, finishing in 2048.
During a special city council meeting Thursday, Third Ward Councilwoman Samantha Turner was the only one to vote no on bringing the ordinance to the floor for passage. Second Ward Councilman Jimmy Hughes was absent, so council needed Turner’s vote to move it forward. Because council could not take a vote on it, it will have to be pushed back for a third reading.
Fourth Ward Councilman Mike Ray asked Turner to reconsider, but Turner’s mind was made up.
“I’m all for saving a business in Youngstown, but I’m not for saving a business that is not for saving itself,” Turner said.
Council members Mike Ray, Basia Adamczak, Julius Oliver, Anita Davis and Pat Kelly all feel losing the hotel would do more harm to the city than allowing for a repayment plan would.
Several council members said they were on the fence about whether or not to move forward with the repayment plan, but after doing research, they all realized it would be the best outcome for the city.
“I thought very long and very hard, and I can approach this with animus toward our creditor [the hotel]… and that would be me taking a personal, emotional response to that. But, I know in terms of logic, pulling the plug on this hotel in any fashion would be to the overall detriment of the City of Youngstown,” said Sixth Ward Councilwoman Anita Davis.
“I was a no until I looked at the big picture and saw that our no vote is going to cause a lot of jobs and a lot of income to the city,” said Fifth Ward Councilman Pat Kelly.
Seventh Ward Councilwoman Basia Adamczak said she has done over 15 hours of research since their last meeting to be sure to form an unbiased decision.
The hotel has already paid back a float loan from the city for $1.5 million. This repayment plan would be for a term loan that the hotel just started paying back this year.
“I’m not willing to put that message out to any businesses now, nor in the future, that this body or this administration is willing to allow businesses to invest in Youngstown and then totally lose their shirt,” First Ward Councilman Julius Oliver said.
Turner said she has spent time talking with her constituents, and they are not happy about the repayment plan.
Oliver said he thinks Turner’s stance on the issue is “an act” so she doesn’t look bad to her constituents.
“It’s nothing more than grandstanding on the largest level. It’s no different than [Turner] voting no for the ARP funds then taking those ARP funds and spending them… You vote no knowing that it’s gonna pass, and you’re gonna benefit from it anyway… Stop the smoke and mirrors. Stop acting. This ain’t the Oscars,” Oliver said.
“I don’t think anyone thinks this is an ideal situation. No one thinks this is perfect, however, this is the reality of the situation,” Ray said.