Lancaster County Commissioners approve ‘bridge’ plan to finance Convention Center

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Lancaster County Commissioners approved a financing plan for the Lancaster County Convention Center this morning by a 2-1 vote. The plan, called a temporary “bridge” plan, covers financing for the next 5 years, during which the hope is to find a long term financial solution.

The plan calls for the county to guarantee all of the debt, about $64 million. Commissioner Scott Martin has said the county would not be liable unless there was a default or if the county hotel tax revenues were reduced by more than half, which he said is extremely unlikely.

If the loan would have fallen into default, Martin said the county would have been responsible for $1.3 million a year. By guaranteeing the debt, the partners were able to take advantage of an offer from Wells Fargo that will save about $670,000 per year.

Penn Square Partners, who own the Marriott franchise at the convention center, did not agree to the plan. The other partners in the convention center, the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Lancaster and the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority and the Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau, decided to move on the deal without them.

Commissioner Craig Lehman voted against the plan.