The Covington News - - Local news eddie webb jr. -

John Boothby, pres­i­dent of the Cov­ing­ton/New­ton County Cham­ber of Com­merce, said the cham­ber doesn’t “ have a dog in the fight” re­gard­ing the dif­fer­ing tax rev­enue pro­jec­tions, but added the cham­ber con­tin­ues to sup­port the civic cen­ter as an eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment project for New­ton County.

“The num­bers have to work to the sat­is­fac­tion of the elected of­fi­cials,” Boothby said.

Bouch­illon ques­tioned the wis­dom of go­ing along with the Mer­chant Cap­i­tal pro­jec­tions and called all three of the pro­jec­tions too op­ti­mistic. He sug­gested the pro­jec­tions be dou­ble- checked and ver­i­fied by an in­de­pen­dent an­a­lyst who does not have a vested in­ter­est in see­ing the project ap­proved.

Cov­ing­ton Mayor Kim Carter said the ini­tial pro­jec­tions con­tained flaws but added that Mer­chant Cap­i­tal is “ a very well re­spected firm and the county has used them for a num­ber of projects.”

“Those num­bers have been re­viewed by lots and lots of folks that do have fi­nan­cial back­ground,” Carter said, adding that the most vo­cal op­po­si­tion at this point to the pro­jec­tions has come from Bouch­illon.

Carter said if it is the con­sen­sus of the Joint Task Force to hire an in­de­pen­dent ac­coun­tant to re­view all of the pro­jec­tions, then she will go along with their wish. The Joint Task Force is a col­lec­tion of elected of­fi­cials and com­mu­nity leaders helm­ing the civic cen­ter project on the pub­lic’s end.

The county and the city have part­nered with a pri­vate de­vel­op­ment firm, P. R. Hos­pi­tal­ity, to build the ho­tel/ civic cen­ter. P. R. Hos­pi­tal­ity is ex­pected to spend $ 12 mil­lion build­ing a high- end ho­tel.

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