The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 9, 2013

Ashtabula County receives more than $700,000 to go toward paying off lodge debt

By CARL E. FEATHER - cfeather@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE — Commissioners and county taxpayers got an early Valentine’s Day gift on Friday — more than $700,000 to pay toward the county’s debt on the Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva State Park.

The presentation was made during a meeting of the Convention Facilities Authority (CFA) Friday morning at the lodge. The total of $727,346 is coming from four sources:

• $50,000 from the Ashtabula County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is funded by a portion of the county’s bed tax;

• $176,273 from the Ashtabula County Auditor’s 2012 real estate transfer tax/economic development fund;

• $201,073 from Delaway North Companies, which manages the lodge for the county. That money is the 2012 operating profit on the lodge; and

• $300,000 from the CFA, which is funded by a portion of the county bed tax. The CFA’s money came from an allocation toward debt reduction.

The county owes approximately $18 million on the lodge. The construction loan, originally $14.2 million, has a balance of $11.7 million, prior to 2013 payments. The loan costs the county about $1 million in payments annually. The primary source of paying the bonded debt is the county’s portion of the inside millage of the real estate tax.

Additionally, commissioners allocate $2 of every real estate transfer fee toward an economic development fund, which is periodically tapped for debt reduction payments. County Administrator Janet Discher said that money also goes toward the construction bond, as do lodge operating profits and the money from the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

The CFA’s $300,000 will be used to reduce the principal on the county’s second lodge bond, which started out at $7.5 million. Commissioners have chosen to “roll over” this debt annually, at which time they pay the interest on the loan and reduce the principal by the amount of the CFA’s contribution. Discher said that if that practice is followed this year, the $300,000 would go toward that second bond, which has a balance of $6.4 million.