Anaheim Convention Center Expansion Bonds Up for Another Vote

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Anaheim city officials will decide Tuesday night whether to approve $300 million in bonds to expand the Anaheim Convention Center, this time through a different public agency to get around a citizen group lawsuit that is blocking an existing plan.

At its July 15 meeting, the council approved 4-1, with Mayor Tom Tait dissenting, a plan to create a new joint powers authority between the city and its Housing Authority to issue the revenue bonds.

The resolution up for consideration Tuesday would allow the joint powers authority to issue the bonds and the expansion to move forward, separate from the city’s court fight with a citizen group that is suing to block the bond deal.

The city council first approved financing for the $180 million expansion in March.

But the bond issue was halted in May when a citizen group filed suit questioning the authority of the Anaheim Public Financing Authority or APFA to issue the bonds. The Anaheim Public Financing Authority is the successor to the city’s former redevelopment agency.

The lawsuit caused CitiGroup, the bond financiers, to back out of the deal.

The citizen group that filed the lawsuit, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility or CATER, claims the powers of the APFA are limited to winding down old debt obligations and projects, and therefore it doesn’t have the authority to finance new procajects. Instead, the group argues, those bonds should be placed on a ballot before voters.

Supporters of the 200,000 square foot expansion say the project will allow Anaheim to hold onto large groups that are outgrowing the current exhibition space.

Tait, the lone vote against the expansion, has said the project’s cost is too much for the city’s general fund. The annual payments on the bonds could reach $17 million annually and total $409 million over 30 years, according to a city staff report.

Tuesday’s meeting begins at 5:00 p.m. Read the full agenda here.

Please contact Thy Vo directly at thyanhvo@gmail.com.

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