ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The owner of an Albany hotel has asked city commissioners to defer making interest payments, saying revenues have been affected by COVID-19. But city leaders said the company was already behind on payments well before the pandemic.
Albany Holdings, the parent company for the Hilton Garden Inn asked city commissioners Tuesday to delay making payments for six months and asked the city to waive late fees that total $28,000.
It was brought to commissioners’ attention that the last payment the hotel made to the city was back in March, and that payment was actually for the month of November.
The hotel company had also asked the board to approve a loan for a second hotel right down the street from the first.
“It took me by surprise because they were paying every month, but I didn’t realize there was a three-month arrear I wasn’t aware of, so that’s my bad. Had I known that, I would have taken action earlier, long before COVID, to try and get that remedied,” said City Manager Sharon Subadan.
Subadan said she wasn’t aware that Albany Holdings was behind on its payments when they requested to build a second hotel. She did say some members on her team were aware and told commissioners a mistake like that wouldn’t happen in the future.
Commissioners will vote whether to defer the hotel’s payments and whether to waive its late fees at their next regular meeting.
The Albany City Commission also debated whether to make code enforcement its own stand-alone department or to keep it under the Albany Police Department at Tuesday’s meeting.
Commissioners seemed torn on the issue Tuesday, with commissioners Chad Warbington and Jon Howard wanting it to stand alone, saying, there are still many dilapidated buildings and structures throughout the city that need to be torn down. They believe the department could possibly get more done if it was on its own.
“Before the coronavirus, I had asked for a new agenda item to start targeting these extended stay hotels. I just believe if it’s a top priority, it needs to have its own structure and own reporting line,” said Warbington.
However, others like B.J. Fletcher and Matt Fuller said they’d prefer code enforcement operate under the police department.
Commissioners did not vote on the issue Tuesday. When it is voted on, they’ll also have to consider who the head of code enforcement would report to if it does become a stand-alone department.