The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Next on Hotel Hell: City of Baltimore

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


For eight consecutive years, the city-owned and operated Hilton Baltimore has lost money, $5.2 million in 2015. Baltimore’s economy has not been strong recently, and the riots following the Freddie Gray incident haven’t had a positive impact on the city’s tourist business.  However, the Hilton was losing money well before the recent troubles.  Instead of making $7 million a year in profit like the deal laid out, the hotel has underperformed financially since it opened in 2008.

What is Baltimore even doing in the hotel business anyway? The city received $1.8 billion from Obama’s stimulus package, including $467.1 million for education; $206.1 million for the environment; $26.5 million for crime prevention; $24 million for expenditures related to the“family”; $16.1 million for infrastructure; $15.2 million for transportation; $11.9 million for housing; and $3.1 million for job training. Yet the city is still struggling despite Obama’s large gift, and the current unemployment rate sits at a high 8.4 percent.

Wake up Baltimore; the hotel has lost more than $50 million since it opened and has spent a lot of money on a debt service.  Not to state the obvious, but government entities have no business in the hotel business, and the Hilton Baltimore’s fiscal travails proves that adage yet again.  Unfortunate that this rather simple lesson needs to be relearned over and over, always at the taxpayers’ expense.  City officials, especially in Baltimore, ought to focus their energies and taxpayers’ dollars on restoring their shaky economies, rather than playing concierge to visitors. The private sector has that covered.

Need more proof Baltimore should stay out of the hotel business?         

“District 11 Councilman Bill Cole said he does not see a ‘right answer’ for the hotel's problems right now. ‘I don't know that we can do any more than we're already doing,’ he said, pointing to the hotel's performance even in a relatively weak market.”

Thank you, Councilman Cole, for proving the point that for government and elected officials of a big government mindset, when all you have is a very expensive hammer, all you ever see are nails.  Here’s a bright idea?  How about selling it back to the private sector?

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