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Controversial Riverview events center offers new proposal to pay back county debt

TAMPA — By Wednesday, the Regent may have a new plan in place to return the $35,000 it owes Hillsborough County.

Up for discussion at next week's County Commission meeting is a proposal that would allow the Riverview events center board to pay the county $5,000 by Oct. 1 and the remainder in a balloon payment by Dec. 31, 2013, County Commissioner Al Higginbotham said Friday.

A 4.75 percent interest rate will be applied, according to county documents. The Regent's board also will be required to hold at least one community event per month at the venue at no charge. And commissioners will be able to make two appointments to the Regent's board, Higginbotham said, opening the board's meetings to the public under the state's Sunshine Law.

It's a drastic change from where the repayment discussions left off. During a heated June county commission meeting, the Regent's board, known as the Brandon Community Advantage Center, proposed a repayment plan of $400 a month for seven years.

Commissioners scathingly rejected the offer.

"I think that this is much more palatable," Higginbotham said of the new proposal.

Antonio Amadeo, chairman-elect of the Regent board, said the best scenario would be to pay the debt in full, but the board doesn't have the funds to do that. Instead, the board came up with the new proposal, which Amadeo said they believe can be met.

The Regent has been embroiled in controversy over misspending and mismanagement since it opened in 2010. A county audit found that $35,000 was misspent, out of $2.5 million given from the county's community investment tax fund. The Regent received nearly $7 million in local, state and federal money for construction.

"We're moving forward and I think that's a good thing," Amadeo said. "We're just a small group of people trying to do the right thing."

Times staff writer John Hill contributed to this report.

Controversial Riverview events center offers new proposal to pay back county debt 09/14/12 [Last modified: Friday, September 14, 2012 11:39pm]
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