Originally posted at www.foxandhoundsdaily.com

There has been an uproar in the City of Anaheim in recent weeks over the use (or reduction) of hotel bed taxes to generate economic activity in the city’s resort area. I was one of three council members who recently voted for an agreement to reduce Transit Occupancy Taxes (TOT) to secure a $285 million investment of two four-star hotels at the Anaheim GardenWalk, the city’s open air retail center across from the Anaheim Convention Center.

The development of these hotels will create 3200 skilled construction jobs and 1300 permanent jobs –  in addition to improving the competitiveness of Anaheim’s sports, resort and convention industries. The opponents of this agreement claim that the city council is giving away $158 million – this is false. The economic assistance agreement approved by council will not impact city funding. In point of fact, the hotels will grow city revenue from the first year they open for business.

The Anaheim/Orange County Convention and Visitors Bureau must compete with larger cities nationally and internationally to secure large scale conventions that not only improve Anaheim’s economy but Orange County’s as well. Many cities, including Anaheim’s next door neighbor, the City of Garden Grove, understand fully the value of working with developers to improve their economy and recently adopted a very similar economic assistance program for one of their new hotels. The City of Los Angeles agreed to provide the developers of LA Live a deal that included 100% of the TOT for 25 years, waive all building an permit fees, and provide significant funding from the redevelopment agency because their city leaders wanted to capture convention business that was going to “…Anaheim, San Diego and San Francisco.”

For Anaheim, the GardenWalk hotels will start generating more than $3 million in new revenue the first year they are open, and long term will generate more than $20 million annually – all without raising taxes on our residents and businesses. Anaheim has a long history of similar public-private partnerships with the development of the Disneyland resort area, Honda Center, Angels Stadium and the Convention Center.

Anaheim is fortunate to have thriving resort and stadium areas that provide for more than 50 percent of the city’s general fund. The approval of these two luxury hotels is part of a larger plan to grow the city’s economy long-term by taking necessary steps to revitalize the GardenWalk retail center, grow the Convention Center, expand the city’s transportation network, and realize the vision of the Platinum Triangle.

I strongly support this public-private partnership because it will create jobs, grow the city’s general fund revenue, and improve the city’s overall economic climate.  By working collaboratively toward a common goal, we can revitalize our economy and improve the services that directly impact the quality of life of our communities – all without raising taxes.

The broad coalition of community, business, labor and taxpayer support for the GardenWalk Hotels can be found at www.fightforanaheimjobs.com.

Kris Murray is an Anaheim City Council Member.