City News Service
The San Diego City Council unanimously approved a plan Tuesday to have the Centre City Development Corp. pay off the rest of the debt service on Petco Park.
The debt payments came out of the city's general fund until 2009, when they were transferred to the CCDC, but that agreement was set to last only until 2013.
The city's downtown redevelopment arm will now make the payments until bonds on the 7-year-old ballpark mature in 2032.
The City Council took up the issue at a time when San Diego officials are scrambling to close annual shortfalls in the general fund, while also trying to keep redevelopment agencies off Gov. Jerry Brown's chopping block.
The governor wants to phase them out as part of his state budget plan, but city officials credit the redevelopment process with revitalizing downtown.
The CCDC is funded by a portion of the tax revenue generated by its projects. Since the home of baseball's San Diego Padres has spurred new hotels, condominiums and office buildings in the East Village, city officials believe it is best to have the agency pay the $11.3 million debt service, which will ease pressure on the general fund.
"It's payment of a debt rightfully owed," City Councilman David Alvarez said.
Councilman Carl DeMaio said the plan will protect taxpayers citywide since the money won't come out of the general fund, which faces a projected shortfall of at least $45 million for the next fiscal year.
The CCDC plans to issue its own bonds in 2015 to help make the payments, but Executive Vice President Frank Alessi said the agency is going to have to prioritize and possibly delay future projects.
Jay Goldstone, the city's chief operating officer, said Mayor Jerry Sanders had originally intended to extend the CCDC payments over another five years, but opted for "proactive action" in case the governor succeeds in eliminating redevelopment agencies.
Any contracts in place at that time would remain in effect, according to city officials.