Rio Rancho Councilor Tim Crum said his vote last week against the city’s mid-year budget was a protest at the council’s failure to respond to his call to take action to stem losses at the Star Center.
“If there were an end in sight and we could pack the house maybe we could let this go,” Crum said on Tuesday, “But it has never produced anywhere close to a break even point and we have to take bold action.”
The amount the city is budgeting— roughly $3.5 million — to cover Star Center debt and operational expenses annually is having a “very real impact” on the Rio Rancho’s ability to deliver services to residents, he said.
Rio Rancho is on the hook because it pledged tax revenues to cover the $36 million in bonds it sold to build the venue which has lost money since it opened in 2006. Its contract with Star Center operator Global Spectrum also obliges the city to cover operating expenses.
At the council meeting last week, Crum suggested holding a council workshop to discuss creative solutions to reduce losses at the Star Center.
One possibility: marketing a 124-parcel of industrially zoned land near V. Sue Cleveland High School to venture capitalists “who may be willing to assume the liability of the Santa Ana Star Center in exchange for the land.” Crum said.