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This afternoon, City Council members take up the issue of whether downtown redevelopment money should be used to pay the city’s debt payments for Petco Park for the next five years.

The proposed agreement calls for the city’s Redevelopment Agency to pay $11.3 million a year, or the entire annual debt service on the ballpark, for the next five years. That represents about $57 million of the $153 million the city still owes on the ballpark bonds. City officials say the move will free up hotel-tax money that could be used for other day-to-day expenses now paid out of the city’s general fund.

The proposal on today’s agenda is part of a larger discussion about how much downtown redevelopment money should cover expenses now paid for by the city, as I detailed in this January story.

Councilmen Carl DeMaio and Kevin Faulconer wrote a memo saying today’s agreement leaves open the debate about who will assume responsibility for the Petco Park debt in 2014. They advocate revisiting the issue after the city works out an agreement with the federal government regarding the city’s questionable spending of millions in federal grant money.

The councilmen also say the Centre City Development Corp., which oversees downtown redevelopment, should report back on its yet-to-be completed projects. The major argument against using redevelopment money for the Petco Park debt has been that it will interfere with CCDC projects and hamper downtown redevelopment.

RANI GUPTA

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