Monday, April 20, 2009

Billion dollar questions about Convention Center

A big THANK YOU to Nashville MetroCouncilwoman Emily Evans who continues her questioning of the Convention Center. 

This tax-eating boondoggle has been very slowly and incrementally pushed down the throats of Metro  taxpayers. This convention center is a PRIVATE project which will benefit a very few downtown businesses who happen to have enormous lobbying power. Sorry, taxpayers, we lose again if this monstor project is approved.

Questions we should be asking:
1. $75 million dollar note that pays off in 3 years will need about $26 million a year in debt service payments of principle and interest (using a 3% interest rate and uniform principle retirement). Given that the hotel and tourism taxes designated for this purpose only amount to about $16 million a year, how is this going to work? Will this note require some sort of additional pledge or security from Metro? Will it be designed as an interest only loan?

2. What is the budget for this $75 million financing? How much for land? How much for relocation? How much for demolition? How much for engineering, architecture, design, consultants, etc? How much for financing costs? Is $75 milliuon enough? Is $75 million too much?

3. How will they acquire 45 parcels of land by negotiation and condemnation in 5 months? Has any serious pre-negotiation work been done? How many property owners have been contacted? How many contracts have been drafted? Have appraisals been ordered for all properties?

4. Why the piecemeal approach to financing? Why can't we take the advice of our bankers and do what pretty much every other major leisure facility does and make sure we have the financing before getting started? Why buy land if you are not sure you can support and finance a project of this magnitude?