City reveals proposed sources of funds for cyber parking deck project

Augusta officials have revealed the mix of funding sources they hope to use to cover interest-only payments for about seven years on a new parking garage to support the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center.

 

The estimated 500-space parking deck wasn’t part of Gov. Nathan Deal’s January announcement about the $50 million center being fast-tracked for construction on Augusta’s riverfront, but soon city officials acknowledged their commitment to paying for a deck to serve the center.

At a Wednesday news conference, City Administrator Janice Allen Jackson and Mayor Hardie Davis emphasized the city’s role in providing only financing and design assistance – with a request to involve local small businesses – in what will be a state construction project. Groundbreaking is set for June.

“This is a state-led project,” Davis said, “a state construction project,” and “ultimately (will be) a state-owned facility.”

Jackson said after considering several options, a $12 million bond issue on which the city will make only $500,000 annual interest payments for the first seven or eight years – before refinancing or using future sales tax dollars to pay the debt in full – would keep the city’s credit rating strong and payments affordable.

While all details are subject to change, the city can cover the payments with an expected “low end” projection of $100,000 in revenue from operating the deck; $150,000 from Transportation Investment Act discretionary funds; $125,000 from mixed-drink taxes that currently go to the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau and $125,000 from the city’s general fund.

The Augusta Chronicle has requested documents associated with the deck project; city General Counsel Andrew MacKenzie said in a brief email Wednesday nearly all are exempt from disclosure under the Georgia Open Meetings Act as involving real estate appraisals, engineering or feasibility estimates or real estate acquisition. Others are exempt as attorney work produced by outside counsel Jim Plunkett, , MacKenzie said by telephone.

A summary handed out at the news conference has the city Urban Redevelopment Agency as conduit for the bond issue, with the target area to require designation as blighted and subject to a redevelopment plan. It says the CVB’s lost mixed-drink revenue can be made up by changing a local definition of short-term lodging from 10 days to 30 , creating up to $250,000 in new hotel-motel taxes.

Issuing more debt won’t impact the city’s credit rating, and city financial advisor Davenport and Co. has said Augusta can issue up to $181 million without concern, the summary said.

The URA will need to obtain title to the state-owned land until the bonds are paid in a deal Davis said will be “transparent” and lack the controversy associated with the city’s construction five years ago of the privately-managed public parking deck that serves Augusta Convention Center, formerly known as the TEE Center.

“This will not be TEE Center 2.0,” Davis said.

Many other decisions have to be made including details such as who will run the facility and how much it will cost to park there. The summary estimated renting 125 spaces at $65 per month to cyber center faculty and tenants, generating $97,500 annually, with the city potentially contracting with Augusta University or a private firm to run the deck.

Reach Susan McCord at (706) 823-3215 or susan.mccord@augustachronicle.com.

Commission authorizes funds for cyber parking deck
Cyber plan calls for city-funded parking garage
Jerry Whitcomb 5 months ago
Ain't you proud? We are borrowing a TON of money and paying interest only for 7 or 8 years until they can soak us for another SPLOST which they have ALREADY SPENT. Kind of like they did to us with the Marble Palace. "we already spent the money on the Marble Palace so you had better approve SPLOST 7 or we will have to raise your taxes". 

You know what I call this "after the change" method of doing business? 

DETROIT
B. M. Michales 5 months ago
Just look at the picture and you can see 1 reason ARC is so messed up.
J. Paul Griffin 5 months ago
This is a game of bait and switch.  These folk (commissioners) just can not help themselves when it comes to spending taxpayer money. Just follow the money trail. The Devil is in the details!
Elmer Dinkley 5 months ago
While you're at it, city commission, can you approve money for a parking deck at the airport?  Did any of you try to fly out during Master's week?  Finding a parking spot was a b***ch!
Bill Pinot 5 months ago
SPLOST to the ARC Commision = SLUSH  SPLOST is supposed to be Special Local Option Sales Tax voted on by the citizens for a specific purpose.  I wonder how many have voted for this?
Jerry Whitcomb 5 months ago
Now THEY spend the money where they want AND THEN threaten us with a tax increase unless we approve a SPLOST. Seems to me like this would violate the intent of the SPLOST law and should be challenged in court. 
Donald Sterling 5 months ago
And what happens when the Cyber Center flops?  Paying only interest is an example of why OUR federal government is in a mess.  This is a way to get ARC deeper in debt.  I do hope all funds generated are split into repayment of the loan, upkeep/maintenance, and possibly attendance.  Feel the running of the facility should come under ARC government...not an outside entity.
B. M. Michales 5 months ago
Bill is correct, ARC government messes up everything it is charge of or touches. These groups could not run or organize a 1 car funeral. Can you say little Detroit?
Bill Pinot 5 months ago
Donald Sterling, are you serious, that ARC should run the Cyber Center??  They can't even run the Riverfront!  If you put them in charge of it it'll be bankrupt and moved at least 200 miles away in 6 months!! 
[removed] 5 months ago
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Jerry Whitcomb 5 months ago
Just look at that picture. If THAT doesn't make you want to flee Augusta, nothing will. The witch, the warlock, and their coven. Not a smiling white face in sight. All of them proud that they have mortgaged your future earnings with a bet on an unapproved SPLOST. Scares the hell out of me. These people are dangerous. 
Steven Jackson 5 months ago
BTW: the Elephant in the room NO One seems to want to address.
It is the Federal Gov. WHAT IF....

The Federal Gov. Budget axes this Cyber location or a change in Political leadership moves it?
Jerry Whitcomb 5 months ago
Or what if a Democrat were to win the governorship next year and decide to move the state cyber school to Atlanta or Athens. Not likely....but possible.....and something to keep in the back of your head when betting on FUTURE SPLOST  approval. 
ROSE ABEE 5 months ago
So spending $4,000,000 to delay paying $12,000,000 plus the unmentioned interest costs when the principle is eventually refinanced?  That's a hefty price to pay in order to avoid paying as you go. Even the highest cost credit cards and/or loan sharks don't charge these percentages!   How STUPID is that?  The final cost will be staggering. 
Better option:  Cut some  unnecessary spending now and pay towards the principle instead of interest only (like your fiscally responsible constituents do with their own debt every day) to delay paying money you don't have. 
Just another example of poor management. 
Why does anyone continue to vote for these clowns?  They can't even make themselves smile!  

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