Friends pushing the council using singing kids, attorney’s opinion

Friends of the Auditorium continue to pound away at the Bowie City Council using singing children and addressing the question of illegality in using hotel/motel tax monies for restoration of the 1927 facility.

At its June 3 meeting, Councilor Laura Sproles said the use of the tax money for “historic preservation,” when nothing has actually been done to the building, which would constitute illegal use of the funds. Sproles chairs the city’s hotel tax committee.

Her statement raised the anger of the audience as they exclaimed it is legal. Back in 1997, three percent of the tax was set aside by the council for the restoration project.

In January of this year, the council demanded to know the status of the project and gave the Friends until November to return with some concrete evidence of financial support through grants or donations. Estimated cost to restore the building is between $4.5 and $5 million.

During public comments Tuesday night, Jim Graham, member of the Friends, read a letter from Bowie attorney Brandon Earp, whom the group had asked to write a letter to the city with his opinion on the legality of using the hotel occupancy tax for the ongoing restoration efforts of the auditorium. Earp, a former Bowie mayor and councilor, said while he provided his opinion the “relative lack of legal authority for the questions of fact that seem to be of paramount importance in considering this matter.”

Read the full story in the weekend News.