Byline: Nick Kotsopoulos
COLUMN: CITY HALL NOTEBOOK
Frustrated by the lack of progress in motivating tax-exempt, nonprofit institutions and groups to make payments in lieu of taxes to the city, Councilor-at-Large Gary Rosen has come up with a potential alternative to generate revenues from local colleges, which pay no property taxes to the city.
Mr. Rosen is asking City Manager Michael V. O'Brien to consider instituting an annual college student assessment fee of $99, which would only be applied to students who are non-Worcester residents. He has suggested the fee could be assessed starting this fiscal year, and then in the second semester of each year thereafter.
With more than 20,000 students attending schools of higher education in Worcester, Mr. Rosen says, the money could help pay for municipal services used by those students, such as public safety, public works, parks, streets and sidewalks.
Mr. Rosen's proposal goes before the City Council at its special meeting tomorrow night.
The closing of the Worcester Hotel & Convention Center at 500 Lincoln St. is a loss to the local political scene.
That's because the 35-year-old hotel, which initially opened as a Sheraton Inn and later became a Holiday Inn, had long been a primary destination for scores of local, state and even national political figures, including a former president.
The hotel for many years was the site of the annual Labor Day Breakfast hosted by the Central Massachusetts Labor Council. Among those who frequently attended that breakfast were U.S. Reps. James P. McGovern and his predecessor, Joseph D. Early, U.S. Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry, Democratic statewide office holders, as well as members of the local legislative delegation, Worcester mayors and city councilors.
Republicans also occasionally held their Labor Day breakfasts there, attracting such notables as former U.S. Rep. Peter Blute and former Govs. Paul Cellucci and William F. Weld, as well as several other notable local and statewide Republicans.
In February 1980, then-Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan came to the hotel to address the Lincoln Day Dinner of the Worcester County Republican Club and the Women's Republican Club of Worcester. More than 700 people, including scores from the national media, packed the hotel's main ballroom that night to see Mr. Reagan. A couple of weeks later, he went on to win the New Hampshire primary on his way to eventually capturing the White House.