Even as local governments like the City of Dallas can barely keep the potholes filled and their jails running properly, they are none too eager to indulge in mission creep. On May 15, the Dallas City Council approved spending $42 million to purchase land to create a city-owned convention center hotel that all told could cost taxpayers $520 million.

The Mayor and the rest of the Council acted over the objections of City Councilman Mitchell Rasansky, who pointed out occupancy rates are only 65 percent in Dallas – talk about throwing good money after bad. Also, just several months ago, the land was appraised at less than a third of $42 million.

The City could still decide to at least outsource the hotel rather than have it be a city-owned venture. Yet, even with the City paying the $42 million for the land, it might not be economically viable for the private sector, leading Mayor Tom Leeppert to push for a city-run hotel.

And if in fact it isn’t commercially viable, why should there be lower standards for return on investment for spending hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money than the private sector would utilize?

City governments should focus on doing the basics well (as well as government can do anything) and apply the yellow pages test – there are thousands of hotels in the Metroplex so it’s just not an appropriate role for government.

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