Commission to Decide ITA Bond Issue

By Ryan Dearbone | 

Should the city foot the bill for Transpark bonds?

The answer to that question will become clearer at the Bowling Green City Commission meeting Oct. 2.

The five-member commission will have the first reading of a municipal order.

If it passes, it would allow the "Intermodal Transportation Authority" or ITA, to change the current Transpark bonds from mortgage-backed to general obligation bonds.

It's an issue that's been discussed for months and may seem to have more questions than answers, but the future of the way the Transpark does business hangs in the balance.

The issue stems from the Kentucky Tri-Modal Transpark currently using mortgage-backed bonds to sell land.

The only problem with that, is under that protocol there are six separate bond issues with two different banks.

"The banks are under no obligation to release land to the ITA whenever we sell a parcel," ITA President Jim Hizer said.

Instead, the banks set up a certain amount of money the Transpark has to pay them whenever they sell land.

"The banks have been telling us they're looking at something around $60,000 an acre. We can realistically sell the land between $25,000 and $45,000 an acre," Hizer explained.

The ITA feels the city could help alleviate this growing debt if they re-finance these bonds into general obligation bonds.

"The city of Bowling Green has already collected over $1.1-million in occupational taxes from the Transpark," Hizer continued.

However, Commissioner Brian Strow told the City Commission at a special work session that the duty to change the bonds falls on the county since they were the original bond holders.

The ITA disagrees saying that the county hasn't received any financial gain from the project and therefore doesn't need to step up and take on the bonds.

WBKO spoke to four of the five elected officials.

Commissioners Bruce Wilkerson and Joe Denning, along with Mayor Elaine Walker, say they would vote to have the city re-finance the bonds.

Commissioner Brian "Slim" Nash told us he still has some questions he hopes will be answered before the vote.

We were unable to get in touch with Commissioner Brian Strow.

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