The city of San Diego still owes money on Petco Park and a previous Convention Center expansion. Annual payments for both debts will be $25 million in 2015.
Currently, the city’s day-to-day operating budget is slated to pay that amount, taking money that could otherwise pay for general city services such as police, fire, libraries as well as the city’s growing pension debt. But some council members want the city’s downtown redevelopment agency, the Centre City Development Corp., to cover all of it.
CCDC doesn’t agree. Agency officials and board members have said they don’t have enough money to both pay the debts and do downtown redevelopment projects such as a second Convention Center expansion or potential Chargers stadium.
Tuesday will be the first fight in the downtown debt wars.
The City Council is set to vote on transferring all Petco debt — about $150 million — from the day-to-day operating budget to CCDC, which only is paying the annual $11.3 million bond payment through 2013.
CCDC’s board has balked at the request. It voted to pay just for three additional years of the bonds at a meeting last week. Agency officials and board members said a lack of development downtown has left CCDC facing deficits in the near term, and the agency can’t handle all the debt.
Tuesday is likely to be the undercard for a looming battle over CCDC assuming bond payments for a previous Convention Center expansion. At least four City Council members want CCDC to take over the now $9.2 million in annual bond payments from the day-to-day budget, but city legal opinions conflict on if it’s possible. The city’s bond payments are scheduled to increase to $13.7 million in 2015 when the Unified Port of San Diego’s $4.5 million yearly subsidy expires. The bonds will be paid off in 2028.