City Councilman Sal DiCiccio thinks some heads should roll after Phoenix lost millions in taxpayer money on its ill-fated entry into the hotel business.
The City Council last week approved the sale of the downtown Sheraton for $255 million – about $50 million less than what the city still owes for building the 1,000-room hotel in 2007 in an effort to draw more business at the Convention Center after spending $600 million to enlarge it.
“Remember that the real loss to taxpayers is $200 million,” DiCiccio posted on Facebook after issuing a city news release that called the sale “the final, sad chapter in an orgy of corporate welfare and insider dealing that has cost the citizens of Phoenix far more than anyone at City Hall will admit.
“Inept staff who insisted on making this deal are saying the loss is $36 million,” he said in the release. “Even using their numbers, anyone in the private sector who did a deal like this would get fired in a heartbeat for such a loss. Yet the politicians and city staff do it, and our public media watchdogs never hold them accountable.
“How many cops could $200 million have added to our force? How many miles of paving? How many units of low-income housing? Those are real things our citizens will never get because of this deal,” he added.
He followed up that release with a letter to City Manager Ed Zuercher that demanded the “names of the individuals that were involved in the original deal with the Sheraton.”
He told Zuercher “everybody is asking why nobody’s being held accountable for these significant losses.”
Noting the hotel cost $350 million, DiCiccio said the sales price meant a $95 million loss to taxpayers.
“But it gets worse,” he said. “Taxpayers are also on the hook for: $47 million, operational losses since hotel was built; $97 million, corporate tax giveaways; $13 million, the hotel fund that was handed over to a large corporation; and $157 million in additional losses, bringing the total loss to taxpayers up to $252 million.