The Rio Nuevo Board Fires Back at the City, Kozachik

From our sister publication, Inside Tucson Business:

The Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facility District Board has issued a statement saying the Tucson City Council and city officials have been dishonest in statements about the board and the ongoing dispute over the Tucson Convention Center.

In a Thursday news release with the headline, "Attacks on the new Rio Nuevo District Misdirected!" the board lists six points on which it says City of Tucson officials have been inaccurate or false in statements about the deteriorating relationship between the two entities.

Among the claims in the unsigned statement, which board member Jodi Bain sent to members of the media, the district said the city has not worked in good faith with the district and has not met its obligations to the Tucson Convention Center.

The Rio Nuevo Board also defended its recent legal claim against the city, in which it demands $47 million and three downtown properties.

City officials have said the claim would effectively bankrupt the cash-strapped city and force a reduction in essential service.

The city has until December to settle the claim, after which the board could move forward with a lawsuit.

"The Notice of Claim potentially preserves the District's and taxpayers' right to various land and other assets," according to the statement. "It represents that the land west side of I-10 and the Arena land to the east of I-10 should be owned by the District to begin to develop it effectively so the community can move forward from the malfunctions of the City managed old Rio Nuevo."

The statement mentions specifically Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik, who has been critical of the board and what he views as a lack of ambition to fix problems at the TCC.

"Councilman Kozachik has offered an angry, sarcastic and unwarranted assault on the District that is both counterproductive and ill-informed," the statement says.

The letter repeats a claim that board members have made that the city mixed Rio Nuevo funds with its own during the more than decade in which the city effectively ran the downtown revitalization project.

During that time, about $230 million of tax-increment financing money earmarked for downtown revitalization was spent, but few of the projects originally envisioned were completed.

The lack of progress and inability to account for the money prompted the Arizona Attorney General to investigate Rio Nuevo finances. That investigation continues.

The text of the letter is below the cut.