The Ramada Inn and Suites Conference Center will have to wait to remodel its pool until the local hotel either pays its late bills or coordinates a payment plan with the city.
The swimming pool began experiencing issues during the spring of 2019 after the hotel performed a routine maintenance check, which led to the ground underneath the pool raising and causing the destruction of the concrete pool floor, City Building Inspector John Hegg said during Monday’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting at City Hall.
While the hotel was applying for a permit to complete the remodeling of the pool, the Planning Commission voted 5-0 to table the permit approval after City Attorney Justin Johnson informed the seven-person city panel that the Ramada was behind on their payments for the Business Improvement District (BID) taxes and water bills. Absent from the meeting was Doug Molumby and Craig Fergen.
“As you’re aware the city of Mitchell has a BID for the hotels here in town, and as part of the provisions in that ordinance allows the city to withhold permits and licenses if the entity is behind on their BID taxes,” Johnson said.
According to Johnson, the Ramada is nine months behind on its BID tax payments. In addition, the hotel is behind on its water bill payments.
Following the meeting, Johnson told The Daily Republic the dollar figure is “a fairly significant amount” but he did not have an exact figure in which the Ramada was behind. He also declined to give an estimate.
During the meeting, Johnson suggested the Planning Commission withhold the permit to remodel the pool until the hotel makes its payments or communicates a plan with the city of Mitchell to make the payments on the BID taxes and water bills.
“I haven’t heard from them since they were informed on that to work any payment plans, so I suggest as an alternative that this permit be withheld until they either take care of that or work out some kind of plan and tell us what is going on,” Johnson said. “The thing you have to understand with the BID tax is that it is money that the hotel charges directly to the customer, then they collect it, which is then supposed to passed on directly to the city of Mitchell.”
Later Monday, Johnson said the Ramada contacted the city to figure out how to get its bills up to date.
Commission Chairman Jay Larson turned to the board’s City Council ex-officio Dan Allen for advice and suggestions as to what motion the panel should consider.
“I would work with the hotel, and tell them they are not going to get the permit until you get the bills paid up in full,” Allen said.
Commission member Jon Osterloo joined the discussion, and said it would be good to see the pool get remodeled, adding it could be a factor that is having a negative effect on the business that the Ramada may be experiencing.
Hegg broke down the technical issues the pool has been experiencing, which centers around plumbing malfunctions and sewer piping breaks.
“They are replacing the pool that popped out of the ground this spring, and some people claim it was the big rains we had and some claim the off-site drains had rotted out,” Hegg said. “They pumped the pool out for routine maintenance to check for cracks, and it pumped out of the ground like 6.5 feet.”
According to Hegg, the hotel has already begun making repairs to the pool such as pouring the concrete that was destroyed when the ground was raised after the routine maintenance check.
“They fixed the piping and plumbing, and I said, ‘I have a permit for you, but I want to hold it until I sit with the Planning Commission,’” Hegg said.
Hegg said new pools are now required to be equipped with double check valves, and the Ramada cannot dig a pool due to the requirements that the state changed. To meet those requirements, the Ramada had to downsize the pool, Hegg said. In addition, the baby pool that sits next to the larger pool would be eliminated.
Johnson provided some further information regarding the process of the city’s hotel BID tax, prior to the Commission voting to table the permit until the Ramada either coordinates a payment plan with the city or pays the BID tax payments its behind on.
“If they don’t have some money for other things, I can understand that. But this is money that should have gone directly from the pockets of the consumer to the city,” Johnson added.