It appears a $14 million hotel and resort will not be coming to Pineville after all. Tuesday afternoon, the Bell County Tourism Commission voted against using restaurant tax dollars for the project. Officials say without the funding, the project will not happen.
During the meeting, officials from Bell County pleaded with the Tourism Commission to approve using Pineville's restaurant tax dollars to fund bonds for the $14 million Wasioto Hotel and Resort.
"This is legal. It's a no-brainer. We need this desperately," said Judge-Executive Albey Brock.
Leaders claim the Wasioto Hotel project would create hundreds of jobs and boost tourism, but the Tourism Commission questioned whether it is legal and appropriate to use the restaurant tax dollars for it.
Officials and the commissioners argued over the proposal.
"I just don't understand. I'm trying to convince the Tourism Commission to let us have tourism in Bell County," Mike Bowling told the crowd.
The Tourism Commission voted to not approve the Pineville restaurant tax dollars for the project.
"I'm sorry," one of the commissioners said to a developer after the vote. "You're the one sorry, you lost the jobs," an attorney responded.
County and city leaders say without the restaurant tax money, there is not enough funding for the Wasioto project.
"To have an opportunity to do a tourism and economic development project of this size and have it not happen, it's a little hard to take," said Judge-Executive Brock.
"I can't see that hotel filled every night and have 80 jobs. I don't think that's going to happen, so why use the restaurant tax for something I really believe will not work out," said Judy Hall, a Bell County Tourism Commissioner.
Tourism commissioners say the issue is now over; however, some Bell County leaders told us they will continue to lobby for the project in the future.