Thursday, June 08, 2000

County puts $10M toward stadium

More payments for overruns expected soon

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County commissioners did a $10 million shuffle Wednesday, shifting that amount of money into a Paul Brown Stadium account so they can make a second payment on the estimated $45 million in cost overruns.

        That brings the total spent on overruns so far to $24.3 million, after commissioners made an initial $14.3 million down payment against the overruns in February.

        And they'll have to make a third installment soon.

        Suzanne Burke, the county's director of administrative services, said more money might be issued for the overruns later this month.

        The county is paying for the overruns in chunks so it has enough cash on hand to cover other expenses, such as those that come with building the Reds ballpark, Fort Washington Way, parking and other riverfront projects.

        The county is basically lending the money to pay for the overruns until it issues approximately $195 million in bonds for the Reds ballpark construction later this summer. Once the cash from the bonds comes in, the county can pay itself back.

        “It's about cash flow,” Ms. Burke said. “We're fronting this money for the football stadium and we've been doing that for several projects. So cash is tight right now.”

        Moving the money into the stadium account will ensure that construction crews continue getting paychecks, and that the race to complete the project by the Aug. 19 deadline doesn't slow.

        Stadium Project Manager Dan Streyle said another installment by the end of the month would be very helpful, so workers don't have to worry about whether they'll be paid at the end of each week.

        “Money is being spent more quickly now, and that's a reflection of the pace of the project,” Mr. Streyle said.

        Paying off the cost overruns a little at a time is the right approach, said Commissioner Tom Neyer.

        “This will ensure the subcontractors and workers are paid promptly,” Mr. Neyer said. “But we only want to appropriate money as costs are incurred.”


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