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Ice rink lease would pay city $10,000 per month

July 16, 1997

By DON AINES

Staff Writer

The Washington County Sports Foundation would pay the city nearly $10,000 a month for 15 years under the terms of an ice rink lease agreement reviewed Tuesday by Hagerstown City Council.

The 20-year lease, which would take effect Sept. 1, would pay off the principle and interest on the city's $1.2 million bond issue that helped finance construction of the Hagerstown Ice and Sports Complex at the fairgrounds. The ordinance authorizing the lease will be voted on at the July 22 meeting of the mayor and City Council.

Director of Finance Alfred Martin told the council and mayor that the $9,950 monthly payments over the first 15 years of the lease would coincide with the period during which the city must repay the bond. After that, the rent on the rink would be reduced to $1 a month.

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In addition to the monthly lease, the Washington County Sports Foundation will be required to make additional payments in lieu of property taxes. Martin said after the meeting there is no set figure and it would be subject of a year-to-year analysis of the rink's financial performance.

There would also be payments in lieu of the admissions and amusement tax that is paid by for-profit businesses. That would be 10 percent of gross receipts, according to Martin.

After the 20-year lease expires, there would be two five-year options that the WCSF could exercise on the property. Eventually, the building and its fixtures would revert to the city.

The WCSF would be fully responsible for maintaining the building, equipment and grounds, paying utilities and other expenses. The city will be able to appoint a member to the board of directors, approve the schedule for open skating time, the schedule for use of the ice, even the advertising inside.

The $2.3 million rink is scheduled to be completed by mid-August. The project received a $375,000 grant to the sports foundation from the state's Neighborhood Business Development Program. That will pay part of the foundation's $1.1 million stake in the project.

It was also last Thursday that the state Board of Public Works announced it would pay all of the cost of the city acquiring the 68-acre fairgrounds property. Similar land acquisition projects usually receive only 50 percent funding from the state.

The agreement sets out conditions for defaulting on the lease by the WCSF, including failure to make required payments twice during a 12-month period. At the same time the city would have fairly wide discretion in determining whether to declare the foundation in default.

Some of the language in the memorandum of agreement between the city and foundation is not expected to be finalized by next week's city council meeting, but City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said those conditions, while still important, do not involve major provisions of the lease.

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