Robert Brown says he won't agree to deal on hotel-motel tax

ATLANTA — There will be no last-minute deal to increase Macon and Bibb County's hotel-motel tax to help fund the sports and music halls of fame downtown, state Sen. Robert Brown said this evening.

Legislation to add a penny to the sales tax and split it between the halls lacks only Brown's signature to pass the Senate. But Brown, who has said he prefers a deal that would fund local projects in Macon as well as the state-funded halls, said he will not sign it.

"No 11th hour (deal)," said Brown, D-Macon. "No 99th minute. No reprieve."

The Legislature must wrap up by midnight tonight, and the tax increase requires approval from local legislators. Without capitulation from Brown the tax, requested by the Bibb County Commission and the Macon City Council, will not move forward.

The two halls have taken significant budget cuts as legislative leaders try to wean them off state tax dollars, and Macon and Bibb leaders wanted to find a local funding source.

State Rep. Allen Peake, who favored the two-way split, said that if the state ends up moving the halls from Macon to Atlanta, Brown "should drive the moving truck."

But Brown noted that there have been no serious proposals to actually move the halls, just a suggestion from a handful of lawmakers.

In fact, many lawmakers have noted that it would cost the state far more to move the halls than it would to keep them in existing buildings, which the state built, in downtown Macon.