A split Statesville City Council approved the funding for an almost $4 million parking deck behind Vance Hotel that will require a loan.
The parking deck will be funded with the occupancy tax fund, the civic center fund and a loan from the electric fund.
The vote was 5-3 with Councilmen John Staford, Steven Johnson and Jap Johnson voting against the funding.
Mayor Costi Kutteh also voiced concern about how the project was being funded.
“We are prioritizing the use of the Civic Center and the occupancy tax fund in a way that was not intended,” Kutteh said.
“The primary use of that fund should be the construction, expansion, maintenance of the Civic Center, and I think we’re severely impairing our ability to do that by any of these scenarios, and what we’ll have to look for are alternate ways either through our general fund or through some other source other than our Civic Center to actually be able to complete the thing we need to do there.”
Kutteh said if the demand for the Civic Center continued it would need to be expanded. A study is being done to see what the future needs of the Civic Center would entail. The funds would have been used for the parking deck instead of a future expansion.
“We’ve got to get through this for the time being, but I think someone’s going to have to look through this at the next budget cycle as to whether there are alternatives,” Kutteh said.
Councilman Michael Johnson pointed out that a loan was drawn from the electric fund to buy the Statesville airport’s service provider for $5.4 million. The decision to buy the provider was a tied vote with Staford, Steve Johnson, Jap Johnson and Councilwoman Doris Allison voting to buy the provider.
City Manager Ron Smith said capital projects for the Civic Center would have to be shuffled as the funds generated by the Civic Center and the occupancy tax fund is used to pay back the electric fund.
Some of the projects may have to be delayed.
Before the discussion of the funding, Staford made a motion to reconsider the decision to build the parking deck. The motion failed 3-5. With Staford, Steve Johnson and Jap Johnson voting for it.
“Once again, the council is considering pet projects downtown instead of considering projects that would make a difference in the lives of residents living in other areas of Statesville such as the Southside, the east side and I guarantee you if you ask any resident or business owner outside of the downtown bubble if they can think of a better way to spend $4 million even children would come up with a better option,” Statesville resident and business owner Kyle Houston said during public comment.