Bed tax fund to pay for work at EverBank
Jacksonville taxpayers won't pay for the city's $43 million obligation toward video scoreboards, pools and other improvements to EverBank Field.
Instead, that will come courtesy of those staying in Duval County hotels.
Mayor Alvin Brown announced Wednesday that the city will fund its portion of the $63 million in stadium improvements by using a portion of the bed tax that is currently used for maintenance, repairs, improvements and expansion of the stadium, Veterans Memorial Arena and Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
Duval County can levy up to a 6-cent bed tax applied to rented hotel rooms. Of that, 2 cents is used to fund Visit Jacksonville and other tourism marketing aspects. Another 2 cents is being used to pay off debt service of the stadium, which is anticipated to be done in 2031.
The remaining 2 cents was used to pay off debt service of the Prime Osborn Convention Center, which was exhausted several years ago. In its place the city established the Sports Complex Capital Maintenance Fund.
In 2010, the city agreed to use part of the fund's revenue to reimburse the Jacksonville Jaguars for annual stadium enhancements. The city has provided $3.5 million for each of the last two years.
It will now use that allocation to pay off the latest stadium improvements.
The Jaguars advertised two requests for proposal Wednesday, one for the scoring and video display system and another for the structural steel for EverBank Field.
The capital maintenance fund collected $4.7 million in fiscal 2012, according to David DeCamp, Brown spokesman. The year before, it collected $4.4 million.
DeCamp said the most recent numbers for fiscal 2013 would be available as early as the end of October.
The improvements were announced in June, but despite the fanfare, no funding source had been identified.
Discussion waned until the City Council budget review, when council member Richard Clark pitched to include the $43 million city obligation in the Capital Improvement Plan. His rationale stemmed from the $20 million in private investment for the project from Jaguars owner Shad Khan.
But, the idea to include it was shot down because of too many unanswered questions.
"I'm glad they were able to work it out," Clark said Wednesday.
He also serves on the Tourist Development Council, which oversees the collection and distribution of the taxes that will be used to cover the costs.
He said the TDC dollars already are dedicated and an appropriate funding source, but was concerned how much would be left for traditional maintenance on the sports complex venues.
"I think it's an appropriate use (of funds) but we have to be mindful of it, as we do have regular maintenance needs," he said.
He said he preferred to have a more "traditional style" of funding, such as the banking fund.
The city will instead borrow the $43 million and use the capital maintenance fund as a way to pay it off.
Annual debt repayment, principal plus interest, is estimated to be between $2.8 million and $3.5 million, but won't be known until a final project cost and a bonding structure.
As for how long it will take to pay off, DeCamp said total repayment may take up to 30 years, but some obligations will be paid sooner.
Council must still approve the legislation, which had not been posted as of Thursday morning.