Sacramento council asked to correct streetcar funding error

A vote by downtown property owners on whether to help finance a $150 million streetcar project has been delayed a week to allow the city to correct a mistake in the documents, city officials said.

The mistake involves how much the Sacramento Kings will be asked to contribute to the private property owner portion of the funding. The error was caught by Eye on Sacramento, a city watchdog group that issued a report last week critical of the project and its financing, and contending the city was giving one property owner, the Kings ownership group, a lower payment rate than other property owners.

City official Fedolia Harris said Tuesday the Kings will contribute $87,372 annually over what is expected to be a 30-year period, based on the building area of the downtown arena, now under construction downtown. Earlier documents mistakenly listed the wrong calculations for the building.

The Kings group has agreed, after negotiations with the city, to pay into the streetcar construction fund based on the size of the arena building that it will operate, but not on the square-footage of the land beneath the building, which will be owned by the city, Harris said. The city has agreed to contribute $7 million to the project, based on its downtown property. Other property owners would pay into the streetcar construction and financing fund based on both the square footage of their land and their buildings.

In its report issued last week, Eye on Sacramento described the arrangement as a sweetheart deal for the Kings, at the expense of other downtown property owners in the proposed streetcar financing district.

City officials had initially intended to mail ballots last week to 800 individuals and entities that own property within three blocks of the proposed streetcar rail line. City staff members said the ballots now are likely to go out Wednesday after the City Council approved the changes to the financing documents Tuesday night.

If property owners agree to pay an estimated $30 million, and if registered voters in the area also approve of the project, Sacramento and West Sacramento hope to win federal approval later this year for $75 million in federal transportation funds to launch the streetcar project.

Call The Bee’s Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059.

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