Commissioners 4.9.19

Tribune-Star/Howard Greninger

Vigo County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday took the next step toward a new downtown convention center, establishing a fund for money to be placed for the project.

The Vigo County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday approved a special fund for the planned Terre Haute convention center.

The fund, under state law, will be controlled by the Vigo County Capital Improvement Board.

That fund will be fed by money from a county food and beverage tax, a bond issue and committed contributions from the city, the county, the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Terre Haute Redevelopment Commission.

"I believe the convention center is a huge win for the community, as it will enable this community to compete with like-sized communities around the state and other states for that economic driver," said County Attorney Michael Wright.

"The state was generous enough, and the Vigo County Council was prudent enough, to put in a consistent revenue stream that will support the project," Wright said of a food and beverage tax.

"Tax dollars should be used to try and promote business activity, and promoting business activity in downtown Terre Haute is a very important idea for commissioners," Wright said. "There has been a lot of progress made [in the city's downtown] and this is furthering that progress."

The Vigo County Council in May will address financing of a bond to be issued to pay for the project.

"The Nations Group, who are the owners representatives on this project, and Garmong Construction, the construction manager, will be presenting to the County Council in May with an overall expected project cost and showing the County Council how the project can be paid back in a responsible fashion," Wright said.

Commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance to create the fund, known as the "2019 Capital Improvement Board Non-Reverting Project Construction Fund," where funds from government entities will be placed.

The ordinance also establishes a "2019 County General Revenue Bond Sinking Fund" for funds sufficient to pay principle and interest on bonds for the convention center.

Also created is a "2019 County General Reserve Bond Debt Service Reserve Fund" for a reserve that will hold funds enough to pay off bond payments for a year, in the event of unforeseen or economic downturn. That reserve allows the county to obtain a lower interest rate on a bond issue.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached 812-231-4204 or Follow on Twitter@TribStarHoward.

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