Friend recently asked for financial information from the hotel developer, HCW of Branson, Missouri. The city hired Crowe Horwath, a third party accounting firm, to do the review. Over the weekend the Crowe officials told city leaders it couldn't move forward because of a lack of cooperation from the developer. In an e-mail, the firm told council members it could not proceed because HCW would not provide necessary financial information.
Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said the developer simply wanted to make sure its financial information didn't get into the wrong hands or become public. He says HCW, like any private company, has the right to decide what information it wants to disclose.
"That is really in my opinion a very weak argument. The fact of the matter is we're gonna be spending $44 million of tax payers hard earned money on this project," said Friend. "I'm viewing it just like a bank. Don't give me the data -- you don't have to do that. You don't have to do that, but I'm not giving you the money either. Simple." Friend says if he had to vote on the hotel proposal today -- he'd vote against it because he doesn't have the data he needs to make an informed decision.
Winnecke says the Administration's own due diligence makes him comfortable with HCW's financial ability to partner with the city. He said he remains committed to providing the council with the information they need to make an informed vote.