State not on financial hook for Eloy theme park - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

State not on financial hook for Eloy theme park

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Posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 9:25 pm | Updated: 11:02 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Arizona taxpayers will not be on the financial hook if a proposed rock 'n' roll theme park in Eloy fails, a lawyer for state lawmakers has concluded.

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Patricia Probst, attorney for the Arizona Legislative Council, said the wording of SB1450 makes it clear that any bonds issued to build the 144-acre park are solely the obligations of the special taxing district that would finance the park.

That will be the case even though the legislation would allow creation of the taxing district, Probst said.

Senate Majority Leader Thayer Verschoor, R-Gilbert, who is championing the authorizing legislation, actually got the legal memo last month.

But he did not distribute it to Republican colleagues until Tuesday as he worked to blunt opposition and line up the necessary votes for final approval. A copy was obtained by Capitol Media Services.

Sen. Ron Gould, R-Lake Havasu City, said the tax liability question, while interesting, is beside the point.

"I don't really see the point in commingling government and business," he said.

"If the theme park is such a great idea, I'm sure they can find private money to invest in it and make it a success," Gould said. "I don't know why you need to involve government in it."

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, said there is no reason the state should give a business the right to issue tax-free bonds,

a right normally reserved for government.

Kevin DeMenna, lobbyist for the park organizers, said that ability is crucial to making the park financially viable.

Technically, the bonds would be issued not by a private company but by a special taxing district that would be run by two members of the Eloy City Council and three others appointed by the governor, the Senate president and the House speaker.

But the real purpose is for that

special district to levy a 10 percent sales tax on all activities within its boundaries.

That covers not just the park itself but the adjacent land, approximately 800 acres where backers expect hotels and restaurants to locate.

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