America’s pastime is currently on hold, but there are some big payments due even if baseball isn’t played in SRP Park this year.
During Monday night’s North Augusta City Council study session, City Finance Director Cammie Hayes gave Council an update on Riverside Village finances and the voluntary disclosure filed May 18.
The development, often called a “live, work play environment” has seen less traffic due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The virus scare has postponed sports play, including Minor League Baseball, so the Augusta GreenJackets 2020 season has yet to begin, if it does at all, and from March 18 to May 11, restaurants were not allowed to have indoor dining.
These restrictions have affected City of North Augusta revenues streams coming from Riverside Village.
Hayes said the city did make the May 2020 debt service payment toward the bonds issued to construct portions of the development.
She said the financial model for Riverside Village was set up conservatively.
“We're not just collecting revenue streams today to make tomorrow’s payment, we’re forecasting in advance, so currently our focus is on the November 2021 payment. We’re getting certainty of our current payments sooner,” she said, adding the city is staying in regular contact with bond council, financial advisers, the Municipal Improvement District professional and others.
“We do rely on (the GreenJackets) to play baseball to collect certain revenue streams, so if they didn’t (play), it could impact debt service payments in the future, and so that’s why we’re going ahead and looking at that. It’s currently a delay of game and not a cancellation of season, so those mean two very different things,” she said.
Rent on the stadium and retail space attached to it have not been paid yet, Hayes said.
“So, if you will recall in the stadium license agreement, the force majeure clause does have a reference to suspension of play, so the rent payments will be due once play is unsuspended,” she said.
The GreenJackets will get additional time – however long play was suspended – to make those payments.
She said the city is not waiving any rental requirements.
The rent for the stadium and retail space is $350,000.
Along with the quarterly voluntary filing, the city also filed a memo related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
“That COVID-19 document references how hard it is to predict revenue streams right now,” Hayes said. “The environment changes daily; the executive orders get updated weekly. You know, what is baseball going to do? Is it going to look like a regular season? Are there opportunities for them to make up revenues in other ways by hosting events, etc.? So, it’s just an unknown at this point, but we are being mindful of that and projecting revenue based on that.”
The COVID-19 document lays out events related to the outbreak and the steps that have been taken by S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster and others.
“Many such measures are currently impacting and are expected to continue to impact the operations of the city for an indeterminate period of time,” the filing says.
“The degree of impacts to the city and its operations and finances are extremely difficult to predict due to the dynamic nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, including uncertainties relating to its (i) duration, (ii) severity, (iii) ultimate geographic spread, as well as actions by other governmental authorities including (iv) limitations on public assemblies and gatherings.”
Hayes also discussed the Municipal Improvement District payments that were levied on parcels in Riverside Village.
The Municipal Improvement District fee is levied on properties that don’t meet the property tax revenue target. Sixteen total payments, totaling $1,183,326.87, were levied on each parcel owner. The parcel where Crowne Plaza sits was the only MID fee paid by the May 1 due date. That payment was $364,547.76.
Hayes said the city does not have a timeline of when the rest payments will be made but said “they are aware of the penalty period, have been provided copies. They knew the assessments were due on May 1."
The penalties that have been added to those payments total $122,849.