Greater Boise Auditorium District lawyers are working out specific arguments they'll make in asking Judge Melissa Moody to change her mind on a proposed bond that would pay for an expansion of Boise Centre, the district's convention venue, executive director Pat Rice said Monday.
The district's board of commissioners voted Friday to file a motion for reconsideration in the case. In her decision, Rice said, Moody "brought up several points that we think probably can be better addressed by resubmitting."
Even another ruling against the district wouldn't cause the Boise Centre expansion to go up in smoke. The district has plenty of options, including an appeal of Moody's decision to a higher court.
Bond or no bond, GBAD says, it'll build the new space. The question is how long the rest of its planned expansion of convention venue Boise Centre will take. The district asked Moody to sign off on a scheme that would allow Boise's urban renewal agency to issue bonds raising money for the construction of a new ballroom, industrial kitchen and other space in City Center Plaza, the latest Downtown project by developer Gardner Co.
The renewal agency gets its money from property taxes, but it's a private corporation, so it can issue bonds without voter approval. The district is a tax-fed public entity, so the Idaho Constitution requires it to get voter approval — by a two-thirds majority — of long-term debt. By the time City Center Plaza is finished, the auditorium district should have enough cash to pay for it. But borrowing money through the renewal agency would allow the district to instead spend its cash on a renovation of the existing Boise Centre building and a skybridge to connect the new building to the existing one. The district planned to lease its new space for up to 24 years, at the end of which, it would own the space.
GBAD hoped precedent would swing Moody's opinion in favor of allowing the bonds. The Ada County Courthouse was built using the same funding scenario, and a judge recently approved the method for a Pocatello project. Moody wasn't convinced. She didn't buy the argument that the district could walk away from the new building scot-free if its board of commissioners so chose. She said fees and other costs associated with the auditorium district's proposed lease would create a long-term commitment — or at least incentive for a commitment — to keep the district from abandoning its lease.
That's close enough to debt that the district would need voter approval, Moody wrote.