Possible Hamilton city tower sale: 2 public meetings will address the topic this week

Two meetings will happen this week involving the possible sale of Hamilton’s city-government tower to a community authority so that organization can borrow money to assist the proposed Spooky Nook gigantic indoor sports complex on North B Street.

The first will be today’s Hamilton City Council meeting, which starts at 6 p.m. in the city’s first-floor city council chambers. At that meeting, the council will hold the first of two readings on the proposed sale to the community authority.

The second reading, when a vote is expected, likely will be at council’s Feb. 27 meeting. Asked by this media outlet in late January for their opinions about the proposed transaction, no member of Hamilton City Council responded.

The second meeting will be held by the Hamilton Community Authority itself at 1 p.m. Thursday in city council chambers.

RELATED: Local businesses already prepping for expected Spooky Nook-related growth

According to that group’s agenda, the authority members will consider a resolution “authorizing issuance and sale of Lease Revenue Bonds for the purchase of the building located at 345 High St.”

The authority members also will “consider any other business as may properly come before the board.”

RELATED: A September article about Hamilton’s plans for Spooky Nook assistance

Members of the authority’s board are local resident Jim Fitton, Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dan Bates, and local accountant and business owner John Kirsch. Its “local government representative” is the city’s development director, Jody Gunderson. It also has three “developer members” from the Spooky Nook project — owner Sam Beiler, Mike Dollard and Mike Messina.

The reason for the sale is so the community authority, rather than the city, can sell bonds to finance Spooky Nook at Champion Mill, which is scheduled to open in mid-2021. With the proposed transaction, Hamilton will sell the building to the authority and pay about $1.4 million per year to the authority for rent, the same amount it now is paying on debt it sold to pay for the building, which was dedicated in 2000.

The authority then can use those guaranteed rent payments to borrow an estimated $24.6 million. Of that money, $10 million would be used to pay off Hamilton’s existing $10 million debt on the government tower at 345 High St. Another $12.7 million would go toward assistance the city in October committed to the project. Another $1.75 million would be used for a Gilmore Road roundabout.

One benefit of selling the building to the community authority, City Manager Joshua Smith has said, is the city has a finite amount of ability to borrow money, and “this transaction preserves that capacity for future projects.”

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