Hotel Executive Speaks Against City Of Evansville Subsidizing Downtown Hotel


January 23, 2013

Open Letter to the Editors of the Evansville Courier and Press & City County Observer,
the Mayor of the City of Evansville and members of the Evansville City Council,
Vanderburgh County Council and interested citizens:

As a party directly affected by the outcome of the ongoing political push to utilize funds from the Vanderburgh County Innkeepers Tax to build a downtown hotel, I must speak out against the inherent injustice in using the hard work and sweat of the current operators and their equally hard working and taxpaying employees to bankroll an outside interest to be in direct competition with the established businesses, whom, I might add, have not been invited to the public trough. For a little background, I have been involved in the motel business in Evansville since the early 70’s. I served on the CVB board shortly after the enabling legislation moved it from a quasi-government agency as part of the Chamber of Commerce to its current position as a supposedly independent governmental body. At the onset the tax was set at 1% of room revenue with a future cap of 2% which was to never be exceeded. The revenue generated from this tax could only be used to promote tourism and conventions within Vanderburgh County. As ensuing administrations looked to finance projects that could not support themselves they returned to the state legislature multiple times to allow the tax rate to be raised to its current 8% and to broaden the definition of “promoting tourism and conventions”.

The supposed current void created by the demolition of the Executive Inn is a manufactured fairy tale. We currently have two very nice properties downtown affiliated with the casino. If there were truly a need for additional hotel rooms downtown why doesn’t the free market see the need and fill it? None of the rest of us have had the benefit of public money, or free rent or governmental guarantees, when our properties were developed. To ask us to support using the tax dollars we generate to build this hotel would be akin to using the Food and Beverage Tax to finance a new out of town pizza restaurant that would be in direct competition with Turonis and the Roca Bar, two well established local tax payers, or maybe we create a new bread loaf tax to lure a new bakery to town to compete with Lewis. Then we can create a plastic cup tax so Berry Plastics can welcome a competitor to take advantage of the skilled labor pool which their hard work generated.

I will gladly let others more knowledgeable with the contents of the experts recommendations speak as to the many reasons why the private sector has not beat a path to a new downtown hotel and why it is not attractive enough for local developers to pursue. Instead I ask you to look back on the projects that got funding from the taxes the innkeepers’ generated by their hard work and investment in our community. We have paid our dues. Do not ask us to pay the dues for someone else. Especially not for someone who has not contributed to the local economy.

Gary Nickolick , The Clarion Inn and Conference Center


  1. Great letter to the CCO Editor.

    It’s time for other home owned and home grown business people stand up against this type of government spending of our tax dollars.

    Now is the time to stand up against the Mayor and his puppet city council members. Call your elected officials and post your objections in the Courier and CCO against this pork barrel project.

    Thanks to you Mr. Nickolick for standing up for the taxpayers of this community.

  2. I’m mad as hell about the Mayor giving a major taxpayer donation to an out of town hotel developer.

    I’m sorry I voted for the Mayor in last election. It won’t happen again.

    Great letter Mr. Nickolick and thanks for standing up for local business owners and the working people of this city.

  3. This is a shameful act by the Mayor. We work our a– off to make the casino a productive member of this community. Then the Mayor brings in an outside developer to take the tax dollar revenue generated by our Casino to build a competing hotel.

    It’s time for the small business owners of this community unite and publically oppose this insame idea by the Mayor!

  4. Very well said Mr. Nicolick. We have got to stand up for what is right and quit letting these politicians wreck havoc promoting their own agendas.

  5. The politicians of this city started their own agenda when they passed the “no smoking” ban and excempted Aztar; now they want to compete against Aztar and by using out of town developers no doubt a personal agenda but, just like National political objectives; Who is going to STOP them ??

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