Lancaster County Commissioners approve $63 million finance plan for convention center

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In a 2 to 1 vote, the Lancaster County Commissioners approved a $63 million plan for the county’s convention center. Commissioner Scott Martin said the plan, “keeps doors open.”

Martin negotiated what he calls a seven-year bridge to a long-term solution. And he feels the plan will bring seven years of revenue and expenditures to the county. “Negotiate over $12 million in savings of seven years to help make a successful facility and look to a long-term financing solution which doesn’t exist,” Martin said.

Commissioner Craig Lehman voted against the plan because it is short-term.  “At the end of the 5 year period, the revenue structure for the convention center will once again be in place that resulted in a problem to begin with,” Commissioner Lehman said.

The City of Lancaster along with the Redevelopment Authority, the Lancaster County Convention Center and the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau are partners of the agreement from Wells Fargo that will save $661,000 a year.

“If we have additional money to use for marketing, we can reach people and get them to our beautiful destination,” President of the PA Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau Kathy Frankford said.

City officials feel the plan will work both in the long and short-run.

“It addresses immediate problems and gives us a long opportunity 5 to 7 years to really work out a better finance for this center,” Lancaster Mayor Richard Gray said.

The agreement needed to be signed Tuesday to avoid a default on the convention center’s debt. If the terms expired, Wells Fargo could have charged a 10 percent default interest rate.