Dayton ‘should let the convention center die,’ area politician says

A plan to save the Dayton Convention Center with the help of a countywide lodging tax hike is flawed and the city should “let the convention center die,” according to a Miami Twp. trustee.

Trustee Vice President John Morris said in a letter to this news organization that creating a path for Montgomery County to establish a convention center authority – which could levy a 3 percent bed tax hike – and run the facility owned by the city of Dayton would be waste of tax dollars.

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“The Dayton Convention Center, in current form is also a documented failure and has been losing money for many years, supported by the city with tax dollars that should be allocated to services that actually benefit its citizens,” Morris wrote.

The letter from Morris came after Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley last week said suburban participation in operating the convention center is a key element in a proposal to make the facility a regional attraction.

Whaley’s comments followed criticism of the lodging tax plan – which is part of the state budget bill - by Miami Twp. Trustee Donald Culp. Culp said there was no communication with his jurisdiction for a proposal he said would create more taxes in his community without it seeing a direct benefit.

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Whaley said she apologized to Culp for the communication oversight.

Miami Twp. has about 27 percent of Montgomery County’s hotel/motel rooms and the suburbs account for more than 80 percent of those rooms.

If approved in its current form, the state budget bill – HB166 – would allow the county to create a panel to run the convention center, similar to how other convention centers in Ohio operate, local officials said. That group could then institute a 3 percent lodging tax hike to help pay for convention center upgrades.

Creating a regional authority was among eight Dayton Convention Center Task Force recommendations adopted by the Dayton City Commission.

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“With respect to those who served on the steering committee, this remodeling investment is a poor decision, on par with the failed Cincinnati street car, a documented complete waste of money,” according to Morris.

“The city should let the convention center die, shut its doors like Hara Arena did a few years back,” he added.

The Dayton Daily News is seeking comment from others involved with the Dayton Convention Center.

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