Midtown Raleigh News

Pact will cover upkeep at Raleigh Convention Center

A two-year turf battle over how to divvy up hotel/motel and meals tax revenues ended Thursday with a compromise by the city of Raleigh, Wake County and the local tourism industry.

Raleigh City Council members agreed to delay plans for an eventual expansion of the city’s convention center, but gained a guaranteed source of money to cover maintenance costs for the downtown venue.

Wake County agreed to turn over more money from hospitality taxes to keep the center in top condition. But the county came away with an extra $6 million to spend on sports facilities and other items seen as boosts to tourism.

The hotel occupancy rate in the Triangle last year was 60.7 percent, up 4.6 percent compared with 2010, according to Smith Travel Research, a company that tracks the lodging industry. In Wake County, hotel/motel and prepared food taxes were up 12.6 percent through the first 11 months of last year.

The agreement won unanimous approval from the City Council and Wake County commissioners.

Among the provisions of the pact:

•  Maintenance for the center is guaranteed to be paid for at specified rates, from about $2 million next year to $10 million in 2016;

•  Wake County will receive $6 million by June 30, based on a provision in which it receives $2 for every dollar used to maintain the center;

•  Expansion of the center – part of the city’s long-term vision – will be delayed and no longer included in the center’s financial model;

•  The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau business development fund will receive $450,000 annually through 2022 to offset discounts given groups that rent the facility.