Waterpark/ice rink estimate doesn't include engineering/design costs nor possible bond and interest expenses

The $18.7-million estimate for the proposed Bettendorf waterpark/ice rink project doesn't include $1.3 million in engineering and design costs nor bonding fees or interest expenses should the city need to issue bonds to finance construction of the facility.

The disclosure of additional costs came during questioning of City Administrator Decker Ploehn at the council's Monday night committee-of-the-whole meeting.

The project has been touted as being funded equally with $6 million from the city, and like amounts from the Scott County Family Y and private donors.

The Y's contribution, however, is actually only $4.6 million because it is paying the city $1.4 million to buy the city's Life Fitness Center. The city will then turn around and commit the $1.4 million in city funds, along with $6 million from taxpayers, bringing the city's actual contribution to $7.4 million for the waterpark/ice rink construction in Middle Park.

Also missing from the cost estimate are the expenses if the city needs to issue bonds to finance construction of the waterpark/ice rink. If such bonds are needed, the bond issuance fees and interest expense over the life of the bonds would be another taxpayer cost.

The private donors have not yet been identified by city officials, but most of the "private" funds are to come from the two riverboat gambling organizations, the Scott County Regional Authority (SCRA) and the Riverboat Development Authority (RDA).

Ploehn told council members the SCRA has committed to provide $4 million over a 12-year period for the project, while the RDA has said it will provide $1 million for the waterpark/ice rink over a five-year period. Such a gradual multi-year donation schedule would make it more likely the city would need to provide money upfront for the project from either the issuance of bonds or city reserve funds.

According to the proposed agreement discussed at the meeting, the Y will be entitled to damages and compensation if the city decides to terminate the waterpark operation before the end of its 20-year life. The city has no such protection if the Y decides to withdraw from operating the facility prior to the end of the 20-year agreement.

The city would own the waterpark/ice rink and lease the facility to the Y for $1 per year. The Y would operate the facility and keep all revenue from the facility.

Use of the facility would be available through a Y membership or a daily fee. The daily fee would not require a Y membership and "shall be reasonably commensurate to other publicly available aquatic facilities in the Quad Cities area," according to the draft agreement.

The sale of the life fitness center is to close before Dec. 15 with the Y taking over operation of the facility Jan. 1.

The council is expected to schedule the public hearing on the Life Fitness Center sale and the waterpark/ice rink agreement for its Oct. 4 meeting.

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