Government

More News | | | Editor

Repayment issues remain for bond issue, URA board member says

Thursday, March 13, 2014 8:16 PM
Last updated 8:42 PM
  • Follow Government

Some members of the revamped downtown Urban Redevelopment Agency still have questions about how a $28.5 million bond issue will be repaid if Augustans don’t pass a new sales tax May 20, but expect the issue and a related agreement to pass anyway at a called Friday meeting.

The URA was established in 2010 to issue bonds for the Laney-Walker and Bethlehem redevelopment project, but Augusta commissioners voted last year to expand the panel’s role to also fund renovations at Augusta Municipal Building and development projects at several other downtown sites, including publicly-owned portions of Port Royal, the former main library and the city-owned depot property.

The bond issue hit a snag last week when several newly-appointed members of the panel raised questions about the revenue source for servicing the bonds if voters don’t approve the city’s seventh special purpose, local option sales tax on May 20. One of the appointees, former mayor Bob Young, said Thursday he remains unconvinced the city commission was aware it had formally approved using property taxes to service the bonds if the SPLOST fails.

In earlier commission discussions, city finance officials have stated the only alternative funding source is a .781-mill levy typically reserved for capital outlay that will be entirely depleted by annual debt service on the bonds if the SPLOST fails.

Several commissioners he’d spoken with “don’t believe that they’ve signed on to use their capital millage,” Young said. “That’s the piece of the puzzle that’s missing, from my perspective.”

Young added he can’t understand why the URA is being pressed to approve the bonds now under the threat that the municipal building renovations are about to run out of funds, when the commission authorized the renovation project more than a year ago.

“You’d think they would have issued bonds within 60 days of that meeting,” he said. “A year later, and somebody is pushing the panic button.”

Board member Brad Owens, who raised similar questions (and others) at last week’s meeting, said he will likely approve the issue Friday if city staff, outside counsel and consultants can demonstrate the renovation project has reached payment deadlines and that no other source of funds is available.

“I’m prepared to vote to move this forward as long as it’s necessary to do it before the SPLOST vote takes place to save the taxpayers money,” Owens said. “I’ve requested from the finance department that they provide the documents that show this is necessary.”

Young said he thought fellow board members were out of town this week and consulted with Augusta commissioners about how to proceed, but when board chair Henry Ingram called a meeting for 2 p.m. Friday, he assumed at least three supporting votes are in the bag. Larry Jones and Terry Elam also serve on the panel.

“If they force a vote, I’ll have to put a few things into the record,” Young said.

Comments (8) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Old Vetern
73
Points
Old Vetern 03/13/14 - 10:47 pm
1
1
Poor Planning

This city is being run like Detroit was and soon will be bankrupt. The mayor has his pet projects that need funding, and I hope the residents of Richmond county deny the SPLOST when they vote.

Old Vetern
73
Points
Old Vetern 03/13/14 - 10:47 pm
0
1
Poor Planning

This city is being run like Detroit was and soon will be bankrupt. The mayor has his pet projects that need funding, and I hope the residents of Richmond county deny the SPLOST when they vote.

dichotomy
32962
Points
dichotomy 03/13/14 - 10:48 pm
0
0
No bonds without a

No bonds without a non-property tax funding stream. What good is the URA if they are going to approve the same crazy crap that was going on before. I don't have a warm fuzzy that this SPLOST thing is going to pass and we SHOULD NOT float any bonds until we have money to pay them off. This whole thing of spending "SPLOST" money before SPLOST is approved SHOULD BE CRIMINALLY NEGLIGENT. It's NOT common sense, it is NOT good government, and it SHOULD NOT BE LEGAL. This is a continuation of the Fred "what me worry" theory of government financing. If the URA buys into this they will buy into anything. I don't care what anyone says about the deadlines for the Marble Palace (which was a goat rope project to begin with)....IT CAN WAIT UNTIL AFTER THE MAY VOTE AND UNTIL NOVEMBER IF NECESSARY.

countyman
20127
Points
countyman 03/13/14 - 11:29 pm
2
1
The surrounding counties

Why are multiple new screen names being created to bash Richmond or splost? A few of the other screen names haven't commented in years/months..

The surrounding counties approve their splost packages and the commentators don't have anything to say.

If Augusta wants to approve splost then somehow the city is becoming Detroit. The city ranking second in the nation for high tech jobs between 2005-2011, cyber command, medical district growth, etc proves Augusta has more in common with Austin, Seattle, Raleigh, San Francisco, etc..

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 03/14/14 - 12:41 am
1
1
Thank Goodness for Bob Young
Unpublished

Seems like he is the only one with any common sense on that board. As expected, looks like Owens is caving to appease the folks who appointed him.

Riverman1
83981
Points
Riverman1 03/14/14 - 04:46 am
3
0
"Give me some money."

"Give me some money."

seenitB4
87250
Points
seenitB4 03/14/14 - 07:44 am
3
0
You amaze me ctyman

You not only complain about posters from other counties but new posters seem to bother you too...

Did it ever occur to you that MANY read but seldom post--UNTIL, money matters get them riled up...money from their pockets!! Home owners or land owners..

Brad Owens
4429
Points
Brad Owens 03/14/14 - 09:00 am
2
0
A little clarity on today's meeting..

I asked the staff to show me where it would cost the tax payers more money if we wait to issue these bonds till after the vote, if that is the case I will opt for the lesser burden on the taxpayer.

It is the will of the body (the commission) that this construction happen and the commission is most certainly clear on the debt this is placing on the county taxpayer.

The Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between ARC and the URA (that the commission also approved) is clear in the sources of the revenues to pay the URA back for the bonds they are asking us to issue.

Our job is not to second guess the will of the body on these issues. The choice to renovate the Municipal Building was the commission's decision and it is happening no matter what we do so that is not at issue.

The SPLOST being the stated revenue source was the issue for me.

This issue is complicated because again, it is not a question of if the construction should be done, that has already decided; the question is what will pay for it SPLOST revenues or Capitol Fund monies? The commission approval of the IGA allows either way to be the "revenue" source for the URA to pay back the bonds.

Like I said, if they can show me where if we don't take action that it will cause more tax dollars to be spent I will vote for it. So far I have only heard that it will and I asked that I be shown on paper the numbers so I can make an informed vote on this issue.

We will see what they bring to the meeting today.

Brad

P.S. I have talked to both of the Commissioners who appointed me, one supported the renovations and one did not, and neither have told me to support or oppose this. Both said that they would not tell me how to vote and wanted me to look at the facts and make the best decision for the county I could. That is what I intend on doing today.

Bulldog
1324
Points
Bulldog 03/14/14 - 10:40 am
1
0
Brad is logically correct

This vote is logically a no brainer. We will see if there is indeed a downside to waiting until after the SPLOST vote. If not, I have to wonder what the motivation was to push this. Anecdotally, it was obvious from facial expressions in the room at the last meeting that at least one individual was trying very hard to sell a "yes" vote and was very unhappy when they couldn't get it...

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs