FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. –Local officials are celebrating the Omni Fort Lauderdale Hotel, which will be adjacent to the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.
Despite criticism over the source of the funding, Broward County Mayor Michael Udine was in a celebratory mood on Wednesday.
Udine said the modern, 29-story Broward County government-owned hotel with 800 rooms is “a win” for residents.
“Our airport is here. Our port is here. Our convention center is here. It really is a class A destination,” Udine said, also adding that it would help keep the congress center competitive.
Monica Cepero, Broward County Administrator, said the project is also creating more than a thousand construction jobs and about 1,300 hospitality jobs.
“It’s transformational for our community…it’s more money, injected directly into our economy,” Cepero said.
Last month, Republicans in Congress cited the luxury hotel as an example of Democrats spending out of control as $140 million in federal COVID relief funds were used. Some Democrats were also outraged.
“It’s basically money laundering funds to help communities that are hurting,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va.
The Associated Press reported that the agenda for the county’s Feb. 22 meeting details how commissioners transferred federal funds to the county’s general fund to cover lost tax revenue and then funneled them back to the project.
Cepero defended the decision. She and other officials put that behind them. On Wednesday, Cepero said auditors had given the funding the go-ahead.
“We used the dollars from the general fund and the bonds that we sign today,” Cepero said.
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