Warren County delays decison on $18 million in road financing for P&G

$300 million expansion to bring 1,300 jobs from Blue Ash to Mason

This newspaper has brought readers the latest developments on government plans to build more roads in Warren County and throughout the region. We will continue to report on everything from traffic updates to multi-million dollar transportation projects.

Warren County officials are weighing the costs and benefits of financing up to $18.1 million to speed up completion of road projects around a Proctor & Gamble expansion in Mason.

The county would pay an estimated $600,000 in interest and fees on bonds sold to raise enough money to pay for the projects leading to the expanding P&G campus on Mason-Montgomery Road, according to Andrew Brossart, the financial consultant advising the Warren County Transportation Improvement District (TID).

But the drivers get to use the roads several years sooner.

Warren County Auditor Matt Nolan cautioned that his projections indicated the cash flow from the tax-incremental financing district (TIF) could fall short of the revenue projections needed to pay off the bonds to be sold, if property values or tax rates dipped in the coming years.

“There wouldn’t be a lot of wiggle room,” Nolan said before a meeting of the transportation board Friday in Lebanon.

Traditionally the county has funded road improvements in the area with cash on hand from the P&G district or other sources. But with a number of big projects planned and little prospect of raising the funds from the state or federal government, the board is considering financing this and other projects through bond sales.

On Friday, the district Board of Trustees briefly discussed the P&G plan, but delayed the vote until its October meeting.

“We still have some discussions to continue on this,” County Engineer Neil Tunison said at the meeting at his office in Lebanon. “We still have some work to do on this.”

The board agreed to retain a division of Dinsmore & Shohl, which represents the county on other bond sales, to represent the district on future financing.

Tunison said he expected a proposal would be presented at the October meeting for a board vote.

After the meeting, Brossart estimated that the financing of the project through sale of the bonds would cost the TID $400,000 in interest and $200,000 in fees.

Mason City Manager Eric Hansen, A TID board member, said “the TID receives the funds generated by the P&G TIF that are directed to road improvements to benefit the area - both within City and the County.”

“The City works with the TID to plan and execute projects. This financing is to accelerate projects based on expected TIF revenues the next several years,” Hansen added via email.

The funds come from three sets of bonds issued for projects around the P&G development and the Fields-Ertel-Mason Montgomery interchange at interstate 71, dating back to 2005.

The funds come from property taxes on P&G improvements that would otherwise have gone to Mason schools and other taxing entities.

More than $5 million in debt service is still owed on bonds sold for the improvements, according to a spreadsheet analyzing the proposal. Meanwhile $3.5 million a year comes in annually for projects.

Nolan did not make a presentation as anticipated at Friday’s meeting.

Currently TID road and other infrastructure improvements are under way or planned on and around Interstate 71 interchanges at Field-Ertel-Mason-Montgomery roads and Western Row Road, as well as on corridors along Mason-Montgomery, Socialville-Fosters, Innovation Way and Wilkens Boulevard.

In March 2015, P&G, local and county officials announced the $300 million, 500,000 square foot expansion of the company’s facilities in Mason.

The company is expected to consolidate 1,150 staffers as well as 200 contractors in the new and renovated facilities on its 240-acre campus in Mason, where about 2,600 employees were working at the time of the announcement.

Mason provided property tax abatements, a capital lease and grant worth $34 million over 15 years. In addition, the county agreed to give up $8 million to $10 million in property taxes to subsidize the expansion, officials said..

Mason also offered a $500,000 grant to help P&G in selling the Blue Ash property.

After the meeting, Tunison said the remaining questions revolved on which road work can be done in the coming year or so in this busy area of the county.

“It’s just a matter of how many projects we can do,” he said. “”How much can we afford to borrow?”