Boca account with city nearly drained

Jim Connelly discusses how a tax incremental finance district works at a public information session a year ago.

Most of the money the city of Ripon put into an escrow account created with dollars borrowed by the city from tax incremental finance district (TID) No. 11 for work Boca Grande Capital is doing downtown is gone.

In the course of the past 10-plus months since the account was created and a developer’s agreement struck, Boca has spent 79.6 percent ($6.87 million) of the $8.62 million available.

And most of the rest — more than 20 percent of the grand total ($1.75 million) — cannot be touched until much more significant work is done on the proposed Ripon Inn and Spa.

This restriction, made in an escrow agreement dated Oct. 29, 2009, and signed by Boca Chairman Jim Connelly and City Administrator Steve Barg, means that of the dollars Boca could draw from to this point, it has withdrawn 99.9 percent of that total. Only $1,210.24 remains.

In fact, all $3.75 million Boca could spend on the Ripon Inn and Spa thus far has been spent, without plans being complete nor a shovel in the ground.

“Staff has some concerns that most of the escrow account has been expended, and many of the projects have not yet begun,” Barg said. “But we have continued to be in contact with the developer about financing plans for the balance of the work.”

Mayor Gary Will agreed.

“Yeah, I’m concerned,” he said. “If this much money has been spent already — and we have no more money — it’s now up to their money [to pay for the rest].”

Connelly, however, believes residents should not be concerned because this is a sign Boca is doing as much as it can to ensure the projects will be utilized.

“Our goal is to do outstanding projects ... that will be loved first and foremost by the residents of Ripon, but also that will appeal to others outside Ripon,” he said.

Read the full story in the Sept. 9, 2010 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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