Tuesday, May 23, 2000

Banks plan moving forward; county ready to issue bonds

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County financial advisers said Monday the county will have enough credit to build the foundation for a riverfront development proposal called The Banks.

        The county is ready to issue $329.9 million in bonds to pay for the new Reds ballpark, Paul Brown Stadium cost overruns and about $61 million in parking — its so-called base plan.

        But for The Banks plan to become reality, the county needs to come up with another estimated $85 million over the next six years.

        And that can happen, said financial adviser Ted Ricci of Public Finance Management, because the county won't borrow the money until it is ready to begin building the garages.

        With the help of good economic times, there will be ample money to pay for parking garages in 2002 and again in 2004, he said.

        “You'll be able to fund the base plan plus additional costs,” Mr. Ricci said. “How much can be funded beyond that will be determined by a process that will continue to evolve.”

        The how-much question depends largely on interest rates, which developer is picked for the project, and dozens of other variables.

        But Mr. Ricci said the county needs only a 3 percent growth rate in sales tax revenues to pull it all off. And that is conservative, given the area's history of 7 percent growth rate over the past 30 years, he said.

        “Beyond the 3 percent, the market begins to react skittishly,” Mr. Ricci said.

        Commissioner Tom Neyer said the message was good news.

        “It paints a very rosy picture,” Mr. Commissioner Tom Neyer said.


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