Officials split money between 3 cities

LAWRENCEVILLE — The remainder of Gwinnett’s stimulus bonding capacity will not go to a proposed Lilburn sports park.

Commissioners split the allocation Tuesday among three cities.

Snellville officials had requested $6.6 million of the recovery zone economic development bonds to use to create “downtown experience.” According to a letter, the city hopes to buy 10.6 acres of recently foreclosed on by the Bank of North Georgia for a future public-private partnership.

In Berkeley Lake, officials requested $2 million in bonding capacity to help with the city’s expensive dam repairs, which local leaders have battled with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for funding.

Lilburn will maintain the rest of the $8.631 million allocation in recovery zone economic development bonds for the proposed park, which could be built along Indian Trail-Lilburn Road at the site of a current wastewater plant. Another $20 million of the county’s share of recovery zone facility bonds has been allocated to the city’s Big League Dreams idea.

According to county officials, the recovery zone economic development bonds are allowed for public infrastructure. While the governments must back their own loans, they qualify to apply for a 45 percent subsidy to pay back the money. Gwinnett has used about $23 million of the bonding capacity for its own water and sewer projects.

The recovery zone facility bonds are for private projects but allow the interest to be tax-exempt, which makes the bonds more attractive in the bond market, officials said.