Commissioners vote against tax abatement for downtown Abilene hotel

ABILENE, Texas -- A tax abatement for a proposed downtown Abilene hotel was voted down Tuesday at the Taylor County commissioners meeting.

County Judge Downing Bolls said commissioners aren't opposed to the hotel, but that they just cannot participate.

"It doesn't make sense for us to try to obligate taxpayer dollars when we know full well what's coming down the pipe for us and so that was what it was,” Bolls said.

With the vote tied at 2-2, Bolls cast the deciding vote.

“There are so many unknowns out there and so many threats and challenges to us as far as tax revenue was concerned that we're hanging on to every dollar we can get our hands on," Bolls said.

Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna said that a tax abatement would reduce the hotel's tax liability right off the top, so that the city wouldn't have to owe that money.

Hanna said although the abatement would have been helpful, it does not change their plans or negatively impact the project.

“Obviously the city was hopeful the county would consider an abatement, but it’s really their choice and they have the same revenue constraints as we do,” Hanna said. “So I understand the reasoning behind it, and I just appreciate the opportunity to have our day in court, so to speak.”

Bolls said commissioners tried to figure out a way to make it happen, but an abatement wasn’t the right option.

“It was a difficult decision,” Bolls said. “I can tell you that each member of the commissioners court researched this, followed, and heard the presentation made by the city a couple of weeks ago."

The city needs their final report and they’re working to implement their master development agreement. Hanna said the city's deadline is September of 2019, which he said he's confident will be met.

Judge Downing Bolls and Commissioners Brad Birchum and Randall Williams voted against the tax abatement.

Commissioners Chuck Statler and Kyle Kendrick voted for it.

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