UPDATED 3:26 p.m.: City approves concept of agreement with Warren County. Mayor Bruce Wilkerson says no.

EARLIER: Not willing to discuss how negotiations have gone regarding operation of the commercial wrap of the downtown parking garage, much of the talk during today's Bowling Green City Commission meeting centered on how the county would take over responsibility for the project.

Scott Bachert, attorney for the Warren County Downtown Economic Development Authority, said because of the potential for litigation and ongoing negotiations, he wasn't prepared to discuss those negotiations in an open meeting.

Instead, Bachert answered questions about a proposed agreement between the city and county regarding the future of the wrap. That agreement ultimately would give the county the authority to hammer out an agreement between Mills Family Realty, contractors who say they are owed money for the project and a new developer for the project.

Under one proposal, the county would re-issue $30 million in general obligation bonds that would be backed by a lease with the city. Just how the bonds would be guaranteed by the county so the city would have no obligation was not clear.

"We need to at least be comfortable about what we are getting in return," City Manager Kevin DeFebbo said.

DeFebbo said the information was needed so the city could decide if it wanted to go down the road with such "moral hazard."

During the meeting, Mayor Bruce Wilkerson read a lengthy statement that made clear his position on the issue regarding Mills Family Realty and city taxpayers backing the project.

He concluded his statement: "Although my colleagues may have a different opinion of the best route to proceed, it seems as though two competing values come into play:

"One is to find the least expensive route and pursue it. This keeps the loss in taxpayer funds at a minimum.

"The other is legal principle. Do we allow those who have taken funds in violation of the law and other agreements to walk away virtually free from legal action in order to avoid the cost, time and effort of pursuing the legal process?

"We have listened to numerous lawyers and their opinions on this subject. They say this particular resolution probably does not violate the law, nor will it be likely that this be considered a criminal act. But I keep in mind those lawyers are representing other interests – that of creditors or other parties. In fact, the city's attorney and outside counsel have made the same qualified statements, but they represent the city as an entity, not individual members of this body. I am unconvinced of the legality of the resolution. My opinion has not been changed since the discovery of the use of bond proceeds. I cannot see how it can be legal for the city to use public money to cover what appears to be an illegal use of funds without concurrent legal action taken against the parties who appear to have violated the statutes.

"With regard to this particular resolution, I applaud my colleagues for their determined focus on trying to address this situation with as little exposure to the general fund as possible. I will support the majority of the commission in its decision, even if different from mine."

After nearly two hours of meeting, the commission has taken a break.

— Follow City Editor Robyn L. Minor on Twitter at twitter.com/bowserminor or visit bgdailynews.com.

— Follow city editor Robyn L. Minor on Twitter at twitter.com/bowserminor or visit bgdailynews.com.

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(4) comments

flapjack

I'm not 100% sure, but at face value it seems like an oversight failure. That is rooted in the commission making poor choices at some place. Where exactly, I don't know, no one is being very clear about it. I'd really like to see an educated and insightful op-ed on this situation.

bank

Being a banker, I know the checks and balances that are supposed to be in place to mitigate construction/development risk.

I'm at a loss here. Does anyone sane have any idea WTF is really going on? Is there fraud and embezzlement? Would not put that past the "bankrupt businessman" who we all know is a corrupt snake oil salesman.

Can anyone here be trusted? County officials? City officials? Wilkerson seems to be committed to shining a light on the corruption of his cronies, but can he even be trusted at this point? The county attorney?

Does anyone look out for us? Or is this town just destined to be pillaged by the privilaged and connected few?

What a cluster.

303a

THIS SMELL'S AS BAD WHEN PATSY SLOAN WAS MAYOR AND THE RESIDENTS GOT STUCK PAYING OFF THE CONVENTION CENTER AND ALL OF IT'S ILLEGALITIES WHICH IS STILL NOT PAID OFF. WHO THE HELL APPROVED THIS BS DEAL IN THE FIRST PLACE? THE BG CITY COMMISSION! NOW, ONCE AGAIN THE CITIZENS OF BG WILL PAY WHILE THE COMMISSION TRY'S TO FIGURE A WAY OUT OF A BAD DEAL AND STICK IT TO US!!!

fappytheclown

That's the ticket! It worked once, let's re-issue some more bonds so more criminals can get in on the action too![wink]

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