Officials Discuss ITA Refinancing

By: Forrest Sanders Email
By: Forrest Sanders Email

The first major step was made Oct. 31 in having general obligation bonds fund the Kentucky Tri-modal Transpark. Under the Inter-modal Transportation authority's previous inter-local agreement, the county is listed as the bond issuer. Now, the agreement has been reworked for the city to issue the bonds.

But is this the best course of action?

The motion cleared unanimously in less than ten minutes. It's too late for a change, a known Transpark opponent isn't convinced the right choice has been made.

"The reason I had concerns about it, we're obligating the citizens of Bowling Green for 28-million dollars," explained Harold Brantley, president of Brantley Appraisal.

Brantley says the city is making a mistake by changing the method of funding.

"These were not general obligation bonds that the Transpark had," Brantley added. "These were real estate mortgage bonds, which did not make the city or county obligated for any deficit. The land stood by itself."

But Mayor Elaine Walker says the mortgage bonds weren't meant to be long-term.

"The structure of that bonding has really become unattainable because of the amount of money that has to be refunded toward bond repayment," Mayor Elaine Walker assured.

That's in addition to three major balloon payments the city and county would have had to pay off, while still under the mortgage funding.

But Brantley argues that Bowling Green taxpayers will still suffer, considering the price of an acre of the Transpark's land.

"They owe $60,000 an acre for it, and it's worth somewhere between $25,000 and 30,000, so that appears to be a significant deficit that is going to be paid by taxpayers," Brantley said.

That's exactly why Transpark supporters say they are switching to general obligation bonds.

"Under this current structure, we are hoping that we'll have the revenue that this Transpark is generating, pay off the bonds," Walker said. "We may have some shortfalls in the first couple of years, but it's a much more healthy financial situation for all of the citizens."

Time will tell just how healthy a situation it will be.

Mayor Walker added, under the new agreement, the county is 50-percent liable, so if the city of Bowling Green has a shortcoming in its payments, the county will step in to help.

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