Council office issues analysis of Music City Center legislation

Friday, April 17, 2009 at 4:28pm

Legislation analysis by Metro Council attorney Jon Cooper seems to validate concerns that voting on land acquisition is essentially a final vote on the planned Music City Center.

The analysis states in part: “Although this resolution and the companion ordinance authorizing the acquisition of the property are not the final authorization for the construction of a convention center, the council office would point out that acquiring the property and then deciding not to approve the eventual financing for the construction of the convention center would raise several procedural and legal issues.

“State law requires that the tourist accommodation taxes, which are being pledged for the property acquisition, be used for the ‘the modification or construction of a publicly owned convention center in excess of four hundred million dollars ($400,000,000) in costs...’

“Thus, once the property is acquired, it is doubtful that the property could be used for another purpose while the debt is outstanding, and that any sale of the property would have to be applied towards the debt service. Upon further discussions with the finance director and Metro’s bond counsel, the council office has requested an opinion from bond counsel regarding this matter to clarify Metro’s options if this scenario were to arise.”

District 24 Councilman Jason Holleman pointed out that because the tourism taxes created could only be used for a convention center that appropriating them to pay back debt on land acquisition was essentially approving a convention center.

Metro Finance Director Richard Riebeling said Metro’s bond counsel would write a letter stating the proposed step-by-step approach was permissible.

Pick up a copy of Monday’s City Paper more news about the new downtown convention center plans.


3 Comments on this post:

By: JeffF on 4/17/09 at 3:14

Funny, I just stated this fact on Gail Kerr's fatally flawed opinion piece on the Tennessean website. Buying this land with these funds almost forever ties this land to a convention center even if it never gets built. Remember the mayor promised that if the revenue streams are not capable of paying for the project then it will not be built. So go ahead and decide that issue first before committing to this presumptive land purchase. Lay your cards on the table mayor, the dealing and raising is done.

Frontloading all this other activity in front of council is nothing more than a political ploy to make declining this project prohibitively expensive. The language of the bill has a whereas that makes the humorous claim that Metro council has already seen that this project has to occur.

Quit playing the game with us and council and lay out the financing plans. Prove now that the revenue streams from the userous "tourism" taxes will cover all construction costs, financing costs, and operating losses of the center. Prove to us that this magical stream of revenue will fund all expenses, including street relocation, land acquisition, utility relocation, and the previously paid for consultant costs and architect and engineering fees. Show us that the Metro has and will put zero money into this thing. Also, do not forget to totally detach this from Nashville by using revenue bonds, and by not putting center employees under Metro payroll and benefits. Also prove to us that all current recipients of this funding source will still continue to get those funds from the same place and at the same rate of growth. Moving those recipients to other funding is the same thing as putting the convention center on those. Do not put into law that Metro taxpayers will step in and back the center to prevent foreclosure by bondholders. This is not a Metro project, this is a project of a certain small clique of downtown business and tourism interests. Let them sweat out the possibility of failure, not us.

By: JeffF on 4/17/09 at 3:31

another option would be to request a change to the state law requiring this funding be used for a convention center in excess of $400,000,000.00 (whew, that is a lot of zeros). This language is only in there because that is what Nashville leaders (the tourism and downtown folks whoe apparently drive everything). It could be changed to allow Council to use the funds for whatever Nashville NEEDS most. The the Council members can read that sentence and decide if this center is indeed number one on the Metro government priority list.

Right now that money is owned by the tourism industry and they are setting the priorities. It is owned by them because our elected officials have decided to cede their own responsibilities to this very small and politically powerful group. Do we want to have these unelected, undeserving, irresponsible, and unresponsive people in control of a billion dollars in present and future TAX money backed by our own property and sales taxes?

Who decided that these people should control the money that is received from a family staying at a Motel 6 in Antioch or a local single mother renting a subcompact while her own banged up car is being fixed?


By: Anna3 on 4/20/09 at 1:56

The Damn Thing Looks Like A Double-Wide!!!!!