by Sam Hieb
The Rhino’s John Hammer questions many of the assumptions put forth by boosters of the proposed downtown Greensboro performing arts center. You can read for yourself, but I’ll summarize.
*First and foremost, will Mayor Robbie Perkins find a way to “weasel out” of the November bond referendum?
*Will the new Republican majority Guilford County Board of Commissioners —which took over on a platform of fiscal conservatism—–approve hotel-motel tax funding that would pay back $10 million in additional debt?
*How will another $10 million be repaid with parking revenue, when it is free to enter Greensboro’s parking decks between 6p and 9p., and $2 after that?
*Is the $10 million endowment from Carolyn LeBauer specifically slated for a park designed to compliment GPAC?
According to Perkins, the endowment for the park is $10 million. Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said that if the performing arts center were not built, “Several councilmembers were led to believe that the money she [Carolyn LeBauer] put in her will for a park would go away.”
Community Foundation President Walker Sanders, in response to Abuzuaiter’s questions, said the restrictions on the money were precise, but the park could be built anywhere the Community Foundation and the city agreed. Sanders said he didn’t know who had tied the park to the performing arts center but that was wrong.
Abuzuaiter looked over at Perkins and said, “Mr. Mayor.”
*What about the supposed $20 million in private donations? Pledges, not hard checks —believe it when you see it.
*Last —-but not least— will the project go over budget?
Councilmember Nancy Vaughan quoted a study that found that most of these projects go well over budget. If that happens, and the city can’t sell more bonds, where does the money to finish the project come from? The obvious answer is the city would have to delay building a library or fire station or widening a road to come up with the money.
Lots of questions, but as Hammer concludes, “one thing for sure is there is enough smoke and mirrors in this financing plan….”