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Platte County budgeting
for potential Zona disaster

Putting aside $750k just in case
1-3-18

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

The Platte County Commission-proposed 2018 county budget is moving along nicely, officials said this week, and only one budget hearing is expected to be needed.

That public hearing on the commission-proposed budget is scheduled for next Monday, Jan. 8 at 10 a.m., said Ron Schieber, presiding commissioner.

Previously the commission had tentatively scheduled two other potential budget hearing times but those hearings have been canceled, he said.

One notable feature in the 2018 budget will be that the county is setting aside $750,000 to $800,000 in a worst case scenario regarding a bond payment to a transportation development district (TDD).

The issue of a messy financial situation involving Zona Rosa shopping center and the county came to light last month. A one cent sales tax collected in Zona Rosa is not generating enough revenue to cover an annual $2 million payment to the TDD.

The TDD is a funding source for paying off county-backed bonds that were used to construct the Zona Rosa shopping district near I-29 and Barry Road in central Platte County. Zona Rosa was built in 2004 and expanded with a second phase in 2008.

County officials say the annual payment to the TDD is $2 million. Zona Rosa’s special one cent sales tax dedicated to the TDD has been raising only about $1.5 million, leaving a $500,000 annual shortfall. Historically the owners of Zona Rosa have covered the shortage by making a cash payment to the TDD.

That cash payment did not happen in 2017 and the bond trustee drew on the Zona Rosa letter of credit to meet the shortfall. The owners of Zona Rosa still have not replaced that letter of credit with the bond trustee, Schieber said this week.

Commissioners said they have hired special legal counsel to determine what the county’s obligations are in regard to the Zona Rosa bonds moving forward. Those executive session discussions are ongoing, Schieber said Tuesday.

Platte County Auditor Kevin Robinson in November came out with his recommended budget for the county’s fiscal year 2018. In it, the auditor recommended a 1.5% salary increase for county administrative employees and commissioned deputies.

It’s important to remember the auditor’s document is simply a recommendation. County commissioners have final say on budget decisions, and whether the commissioners follow the auditor’s recommendation will be made clear in the final budget document to come.