“Privately Funded” Milwaukee Hotel Project Receives 43 Million in Public Bonding

(MADISON) - Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Finance, today issued a request for an audit of WHEDA’s allocation of Midwest Disaster Area (MDA) bonds to the downtown Milwaukee Hotel project in spite of private funding for the project.  The audit request highlights the action taken by WHEDA to approve 43.5 million dollars in MDA bonds to the project after ground had been broken.  The Milwaukee Hotel Project had been heralded as a “54 million dollar privately funded” opportunity for the community (http://www.downtownmilwaukeehotel.com/about-the-project.html)

In the request Taylor wrote, “This request comes not as an audit regarding the efficacy of the Downtown Milwaukee hotel project, but rather the state’s interest in providing taxpayer dollars to replace the development’s privately held financing.”  Taylor continued, “It appears in this matter that we are subsidizing a project which may not have required public assistance and thereby, limiting the use of MDA bonds in projects with demonstrable need.”  “…as stewards of the state’s fiscal resources, I believe that we cannot ignore this possible misallocation of bonds.”

The request to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee co-chairs could trigger a letter report or full audit of the WHEDA decision on July 24 of this year allocating these bonds.  The full membership of the committee must meet to decide on audits.  Taylor noted in the letter that she is in favor of the Milwaukee Hotel project writing, “I am supportive of that growth and the project moving forward.”