An economy in worldwide turmoil causes concern for Lubbock Co. Expo project

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proposed expo center 720 02 Lubbock County Expo Center

LUBBOCK, Texas– On Monday, Lubbock County Commissioners planned for a May 11 deadline to receive bids for architecture and engineering of the Lubbock County Expo Center, even though concerns were raised amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

There was hope to continue to see improvement in the nation’s economic circumstances during bids.

“Starting last week, we really started to see improvement in the bond market,” said Jason Hughes, managing director at HillTop Securities.

He said they saw lower bond rates, and there were more buyers coming in.

“Even as we’ve seen this volatility, the bank market [continues] to be very strong,” said Hughes. “My hope is that we receive bids on May 7 and I can come to you with good news on May 11.”

There was approximately $1.85 million in revenue already collected from July 2019 until the end of February 2020, the Honorable Judge Curtis Parrish told EverythingLubbock.com.

Parrish asked Hughes if there was any contact with the Texas Comptroller’s office to see about possibly extending the deadline, amid COVID-19 concerns.

“What we have been targeting, since the first of the year, is to issue a revenue bond of $5.12 million dollars,” said Parrish.

He said that was an initial phase one bond that would allow them to pay for the architect, design, drawing and engineering.

“We can pay that with bond money,” said Parrish.

When the county started collecting tax in July 2019, by law, they had 12 months in order to issue bonds.

“By targeting May 11, that will allow us to get in underneath that 12 month factor,” Parrish added.

He said his main concern on the May 11 deadline was whether or not it would “toll the clock.”

With the current tax rate, Parrish said the county was looking at $5.1 million to start phase one of the expo. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, he said they might have to cut the $5.1 million in half.

“If Hughes cannot find a lender for $5.1 million, he’s authorized to look at a lender for $2.5 million,” said Parrish.

Hughes said the deadline was still May 11 for receiving bids, and bonds were set to close June 30.

“The county is still very optimistic to fully bond this project going forward,” said Parrish. “Part of our optimism is knowing and hoping that our hotel occupancy returns back to what it was pre-crisis. Right now it’s down, we know that. If the state can allow businesses to restart, we should see our occupancy rates climb up to pre-crisis levels. And that’s what we’re hopeful for.”

However, Hughes said the county commissioners court had the ability and opportunity to reject those bids if they’re not happy with them by June.

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