PHAM PAC Pushes Back on Hotel Occupancy Tax Plan
Community groups unite to oppose Prop B
Community groups representing the Palm School, homelessness services, artists, and musicians gathered last week to declare their opposition to Proposition B, which would block proposals to expand the Neal Kocurek Memorial Austin Convention Center. At its meeting shortly afterward (Aug. 8), City Council took action to both raise the city's Hotel Occupancy Tax and adopt the Prop B ballot language for the November ballot item, prompted by a successful petition drive conducted by the Unconventional Austin political action committee.
The opposing PHAM PAC (the acronym represents the four community interests) was organized by former mayoral aide Jim Wick, who was joined at Thursday's press conference by Ed McHorse of the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, musician Nakia, Cory Baker of the Long Center, and Paul Saldaña of the Save Palm School Coalition (shown speaking in the photo above). PHAM PAC has released a "partial list" of some two dozen arts and music groups, business and labor groups, and entertainment venues who oppose Prop B. Unconventional Austin argues (and aims to mandate with the draft ordinance put before the voters) that the city can support all these community benefits right now, by redirecting current HOT funding. But Wick reaffirmed the city's position that Prop B's plan defies state law, while the proposal for Convention Center expansion and the city's HOT rate increase provide the only way to steer more tourism dollars to PHAM's causes.