‘Mudflats Money Hole’ confusing reader

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 4, 2003

Editor, the News-Herald:

Somewhat like Will Rogers, I often rely on what I read in the newspapers. Lately, some of the more puzzling things I read in the papers continue to relate to the &uot;Mudflats Money Hole,&uot; otherwise known as the Constant’s Wharf Hotel and Conference Center.

After the recent groundbreaking (or was it the &uot;mud breaking&uot;?) down by the river, your paper reported certain glowing predictions of the income and tax revenues that are sure to be generated when the hordes of anxious visitors to Suffolk are finally able to stay there. On the other hand, on the same day your reports ran, The Daily Press and The Virginian-Pilot included ads for a &uot;Holiday Season Special&uot; being offered in Williamsburg, Va. Such ads offered a hotel room for $69 per night, including: &uot;Complimentary Continental Breakfast, Pool, Fitness Center, Restaurants, and More.&uot; The ads went on to say: &uot;Plus, when you stay more than 1 night you receive 50 percent off the $69 rate.&uot; I certainly hope the people who invested the double digit millions of our money in this project know something that Colonial Williamsburg doesn’t. Oh, what the heck, it’s not their money anyway!

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And your same reports about the hotel project included some more puzzling money data. As I understand it, the City of Suffolk’s surplus fund balance was some $650,000 in 1990, but it has grown to about $17,500,000 in 2003. Apparently that is considered a good thing, but I wonder where that extra money came from. Was it from taxes levied on the citizens of Suffolk? Where else does a city get that kind of money? I did consult the City’s Web site to see how much of each citizen’s money was being held in that kitty. According to the Web site, there were less than 68,000 Suffolk residents in Suffolk at last report. I believe $17.5 million equates to more than $250 for every man, woman, and child making up the 68,000 populace in Suffolk. Someone may want to check my math just to be sure, or maybe it doesn’t matter since the money is never coming back.

I wonder how many Suffolk families could use an extra $250 per family member this Christmas?

C.L. Willis, P. E.