Two issues worthy of interest popped up at Mayor Jerry Sanders’ Friday afternoon press conference.
First: Sanders said that as far as he knew the audit committee’s much-anticipated (and much-maligned and much-delayed) investigation into allegations of wrongdoing was still on schedule to be released this month. This is the investigation that’s a first step to getting the city back to financial credibility.
Second: CCDC officials were told that the nearly $85 million in private fundraising needed to make the new downtown library a reality will likely be announced in the fall. The city has been waiting for years to secure the private financing, which is slated to cover a healthy portion of the library’s $185 million price tag. It’s also been rumored that the donations were close to being announced for the better part of a year-and-a-half.
The downtown library plan was hailed as a way to build a library without tapping the city’s general fund – its day-to-day operating budget. CCDC, the city’s downtown development arm, is going to be kicking in $80 million and a state grant covers $20 million. However, it’s almost certain that the city’s daily budget will be impacted by the increased costs associated with maintaining, staffing and operating a newer, larger library.
Also, those who watch City Hall regularly might have been scratching their heads a bit at the recent news stories proclaiming that this week’s planned sale of $109 million in bonds is the city’s first public borrowing project since it lost its credit rating in 2004.
But didn’t the City Council already finalize the $100 million tobacco securitization bond for the pension system? Yes, but the downtown development bonds will be sold Wednesday, a spokesman said, and the tobacco bonds won’t officially go to market until after the downtown bonds.