The Wasioto Winds hotel project, which was approved in a 5-2 vote by the Bell County Tourism Commission about six months ago, is currently on hold due to a switch in lending institutions.
The developer of the project is in the process of switching lending institutions because of issues with the previous lender. Pineville Mayor Sherwin Rader stated the success of the project is totally in the hands of the developer.
The new lending institution is now requiring a new feasibility study before agreeing to lend the money. Rader stated she has given the developer until the end of January to get her a feasibility study.
According to Rader, if the lending institution agrees after the feasibility study is revealed, then there is good chance the hotel project will begin.
“Whatever happens, I’m not gonna quit (trying to get a hotel),” said Rader. “I want to see that hotel.”
Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock stated that due to the previous controversy over the project, the previous lender decided not to lend money for the project.
The controversy Brock referenced involved the legality of funding a hotel project using the restaurant tax money.
Several members of the Bell County Tourism Commission made claims that it was illegal to fund the hotel project using restaurant tax revenue.
In a letter from Attorney General Jack Conway, it states the restaurant tax revenue could be used for a hotel project because state statutes only state the money from the tax has to be turned over to the tourism commission.
The statute also states the money from the restaurant tax must be used for the purpose of promoting and developing convention and tourist activities and facilities in the public interest.
“If the legislature had intended to forbid the use of restaurant tax revenue to subsidize a hotel, motel or restaurant, it would have so specified,” said Conway in the response letter.
Conway did state in his letter that revenue from the transient room tax could not be used as a subsidy to a hotel, motel or restaurant.
Anthony Cloud is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. He can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 606-248-1010, ext. 208.