by: METRO - Artists rendering of proposed headquarters Hotel.Opponents of Metro's proposed Headquarters Hotel appeal Multnomah County's ruling that they cannot refer the county's partial financing plan to the ballot.

The Multnomah County Commission amended the county's transient lodging tax ordinance to allow taxes collected at other hotels and motel to backstop Metro bonds for the $200 million project, if necessary.

The opponents, which include owners of other hotels and motels in the area organized at the Coalition for Fair Budget Priorities, filed a referendum petition with the county to place the amendment on the ballot. But County Elections director Tim Scott ruled the amendment could not be refered to the voters because it is an administration action not a legislative decision.

In a letter to the opponents, Scott said he made his decision after discussions with the Multnomah County Counsel.

“The decision by the County is a blatant attempt to avoid public scrutiny and accountability for this hotel boondoggle. It is absolutely without merit legally, and is clearly a political ploy intended to try to run out the clock on the 90-day window for signature gathering to place a referendum on the ballot,” Sandeep Kaushik, a spokesperson for the Coalition, said after the appeal was filed Friday.

”In response, this afternoon we have filed an appeal with the Court, asking them to overturn the County’s legally bizarre ruling," Kaushik added. "We will also ask the court to immediately allow us to begin signature gathering while the appeal is adjudicated."

The opponents argue the hotel proposed to be built next to the Oregon Convention Center also requires $100 million in public subsidies that should be approved by the voters. Metro believes the hotel will increase the number of large conventions at the center and boost the regional economy.

No schedule has been set on the court proceedings.

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