Frequently Asked Questions - Q23


Question:

Texas law and Houston city ordinances require that hotel occupancy tax revenues can be used only for specified convention center and tourism related purposes. Won’t the proposed charter amendment interfere with those legal requirements? Why is the convention center operations included in the capped total revenues?

Answer:

The City already is collecting the maximum hotel occupancy rate allowed by state law, and the rate is among the highest in the nation. The convention center also is collecting parking, concession and other fees. Additionally, there is nothing to prevent the City from transferring revenues from other sources to underwrite its convention center and entertainment operations, thus the need for a cap on all City revenues, regardless of source. The need for voter oversight on the City’s convention center and entertainment operations is accentuated by: (a) the current slack in hotel room occupancies in downtown Houston; preceded by (b) the revelation by Barron’s (November 7, 1994 issue) that there already were too many convention centers in the US and there were 90 defaults in hotel related municipal bonds before our Houston convention center hotel was even let out for bids.



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