FORT WORTH-Fort Worth City Council has temporarily scuttled a $160-million hotel plan in lieu of a “Blue Ribbon” task force after petitions rolled in to force a special “people’s choice” election so officials couldn’t sidestep the public with a certificates of obligation sale.

For months, taxpayers have been rallying voices on both sides of the street over a city-owned hotel, a project perceived as a perk to lure bigger and deeper-pocketed events to Fort Worth’s expanded convention center. Under yesterday’s decision, each council member will select a representative for the nine-member task force. In early January, the group will be charged with its first goal: deliver a recommendation by mid-summer on a hotel or offer other suggestions to lure convention center trade to Fort Worth.

Once the hotel project is cleared from the group’s calendar, it’s likely that the members will stay empanelled to help weigh similar decisions about the city’s future, a council spokesman tells

Council was poised to sell certificates of obligation to fund a city-owned hotel project. Unlike a bond sale, a certificates sale does not go before taxpayers for a vote. Then, more than 15,000 signatures on petitions were deposited at city hall–enough names to force a special election Feb. 1. Rather than go that course, council opted for the “Citizens Committee on Fort Worth’s Future.

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