Friday, August 12, 2011

Further convention center drag on the budget underreported in local news media

While NewsChannel5 reporter Heather Graf filed a puffed PR piece on the progress of construction of the Music City Convention Center and while the rest of the local news media was ignoring the shaky state of the demands the convention center is placing on the Metro budget, WPLN's Blake Farmer at least inquired after the implications of the recent market roller coaster for Metro finances.

While few are talking about this and the Courthouse is taking pains not to be too transparent about it, Mayor Karl Dean's 2010 blueprint to refinance debt in order to avoid raising taxes or cutting services is in limbo at best and in trouble at worst. Such is Metro's undue dependence of the vicissitudes of Wall Street and the Mayor's high-stakes risk of starting the single largest capital project in Nashville history with no safety net except the revenues that go to pay for the really unimportant stuff like police, parks and schools:

Turmoil in the financial markets has temporarily put the brakes on a bond refinancing by Metro Government. The city is trying to get a lower interest rate on roughly $100 million in bonds, originally used to pay for construction projects at parks and schools.

Metro Finance director Rich Riebeling says as a policy, the city must save at least 3.5 percent to justify refinancing any debt.

“It’s all subject to market conditions, and because of the volatility in the market right now with the stock market and interest rates, everybody kind of up in the air, we want to wait and sit back a week or two, see how it shakes out.”

And who doesn't feel more secure knowing that the Metro Finance Director has staked Nashville's financial security and Metro's delivery of services on Wall Street uncertainty? And all in the name of lavishing our resources on tourists and of doing the greatest good for the smallest number of nobles.

UPDATE: A commenter below asks about rumored plans to deal with budget shortfalls by cutting retail slated for the Korean Veterans Boulevard side of the new convention center. Can anyone confirm or deny?


  1. maybe you just didn't have this info, but the fund that collects the tax revenue from hotel rooms, etc. and actually pays for the bonds on the MCC collected more money in 2010 than anticipated and is in the black.

  2. It is important to remember that Rich Riebeling does not have a background in finance. He started out as a journalist. Marrying into the family of Dick Fulton got his foot in the door and his ability to be appointed to very important high paying jobs with no experience.

    Reminds me of Dozier at the fairgrounds, Jen Cole at the Arts Dept, and soon to be Gentry at the Criminal Court Clerk's office.

    There should be minimum requirements for all of these jobs. We might be smart to add the mayor's job to this list.

    Hizzoner will take wife Ann's money and just move somewhere else. He doesn't care if he bankrupt's the city.

  3. Mike - I am hearing that the retail that was supposed to line the KVB side of the building may be cut because of budget concerns, have you heard anything on this? This side was already way less engaging than it could/should have been, I would hate for it to end up as a giant blank wall.

  4. Have not been able to confirm question of whether KVB side of the MCC has been cut. This is the first I've heard about it.

  5. It was cut before construction started. See MCC floor plans that are a part of the sales package for potential tourists. 1 small shop under 3,000 square feet at 5th and KVB. Balance is CVB offices and blank walls.

  6. Actually according to a recent report on WSMV, the retail spaces are are getting a great deal of interest from outside sources including the CMHOF which wants to locate a gift shop. The other entities inquiring include restaurants, coffee shops, etc.