Liberty Center’s financing were in the public eye earlier this summer after developer funds meant to pay off bonds for the project were more than $211,000 short for the last payment.
Officials said in June that U.S. Bank dipped into a Butler County tax increment financing fund to make up the difference, so all the payments were made. Commissioner T.C. Rogers said there is a chance the county could be on the hook for the shortfall.
“If a series of entities did not meet their obligations the county could, possibly, be ultimately responsible,” Rogers said.
The total investment on the mixed-use Liberty Center project was more than $350 million, paid for with public and private sources. The project ended up receiving more than $49 million in funding backed by taxpayer dollars, including a $12 million loan approved by Ohio Water Development Authority.
The Butler County Port Authority sold $37 million worth of bonds on behalf of Butler County Commissioners, Liberty Twp., and the Liberty Community Authority in November 2014.
That funding pays for the center’s infrastructure such as streets, parking, utilities and sewer and water systems, and is part of a Master Development Agreement outlining terms of the project’s tax incentives signed in July 2013 by the township, the county and the developer.
The developer is required to make minimum annual payments of approximately $2 million to pay the debt back, beginning when the center opened in 2015, according to the development agreement.
Only in the worst case scenario that the project fails will taxpayers be on the hook.
Liberty Twp. Trustee Tom Farrell said he doesn’t have any indication the center is in jeopardy.
“The activity has been very, very good from the commercial tenants increasing to the point where the buildings are almost at capacity, the apartments are all full, the restaurants and entertainment areas, you go to Liberty Center you will see that they are always full,” Farrell said.
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.