Tag Archives: economic stimulus bill

Las Vegas’ New City Hall Project Continues to Chug Along

Project plans for a new Las Vegas City Hall appear to be moving forward, despite higher than expected interest rates.  To provide a mechanism for more effective interest rates, Las Vegas is seriously looking now at using “Build America” bonds to finance their new city hall. 

By using these bonds to finance the project it will cost Las Vegas as much as $267 million, but save the city  $82 million over 30 years, based on current estimates of competitive funding methods. 

Las Vegas has already awarded a $107,800 engineering contract to design a 650-space parking garage adjacent to the proposed six-story, 303,000-sq-ft building City Hall complex at First Street and Clark Avenue.  

The complex, if and when it is finished, is planned to have a 250,000-sq-ft of office space, a 500-seat city council chamber and a public exhibition space, as well as an outdoor plaza with solar panel trees that serve as shade structures. 

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said recently that prospects for the project were bleak because the interest rates on one possible funding mechanism were as much as 8 percent too high. 

But Goodman says the Build America bonds are improving the viability of the project. 

The Build America bond program is part of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package which lets state and local governments issue taxable bonds for capital projects and get a direct federal subsidy payment from the Treasury Department for a portion of their borrowing costs. 

The Las Vegas City Council will be meeting today to further discuss the issue, but the final vote on whether to continue to move forward on the city hall plan won’t occur until November or December.

If approved, the Las Vegas City Hall project is expected to finish by mid-2011– and create 13,000 new jobs.

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Las Vegas Leaders Irate Over President Barack Obama’s Remarks

It’s difficult to find anyone in Nevada, politician or otherwise, who is not ticked off – boiling mad- over President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus legislation comments on Monday while he attended a town-hall meeting in Elkhart, Indiana.  Obama said: “You can’t get corporate jets, you can’t go take a trip to Las Vegas or go down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers’ dime.”travel

Since then Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has appeared in front of every camera and microphone he can muster, nerves frazzled and hotter than fish grease about the President Obama’s comments, demanding an immediate retraction and apology.  He followed his demand in a letter. 

In our Nevada economy that has been particularly hard hit by the recession, the enflaming remarks by could prove disastrous, many Nevada leaders say.   The number of Las Vegas tourists fell 4.4 percent last year and the descent continued in December, which saw a 14.2 percent dip compared with 2007. 

Rossi Ralenkotter, president and chief executive officer for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, appeared alongside Goodman, saying later he couldn’t put a price tag on repairing damage from Obama’s remarks. 

MGM Mirage spokesman Gordon Absher followed suit, saying Obama’s comments had “wildfire potential.” 

Most business leaders agree that extravagant, ostentatious frivolous spending is one thing, but it’s the “Las Vegas fun factor” under control that can precisely be the economic stimulus ticket to drive up the attendance at Las Vegas conventions and serve as a win-win lift for our sagging national and local economies. 

But are out-of-town business conventioneers really listening? 

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. continued to draw heat and withdrew its plan to hold a three-day conference in Las Vegas after accepting $10 billion in federal bailout funds. 

Similarly, last week Wells Fargo & Co., which received $25 billion in taxpayer money, cancelled a planned employee recognition conference in Las Vegas. 

The fear is that Las Vegas is unjustly getting a growing reputation as a frivolous destination for companies- and not just those getting federal bailout money.  To which Goodman responded, “What we’re famous for has nothing to do with the fact that you can have a serious meeting in Las Vegas.” 

Only time will tell what will be the ultimate economic tourism impact of Obama’s remarks- time Las Vegas has very little of.   It could be that Obama’s comment might tilt the economic pendulum more in favor of Las Vegas tourism, actually bringing in more tourists as Las Vegas continues to work damage control on its reputation as a place for serious business.

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