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Media Response: Cuyahoga County's Bond and Debt Status

Huntington Convention Center of ClevelandCuyahoga County funds projects that have transformed our region. Think of the Convention Center, the Hilton, Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, Public Square, Huntington Park Garage, and the County Administrative Headquarters. These major development projects are often funded through  bonds.

We recently received questions from cleveland.com asking about our bond and debt status. We want you to know what we were asked and how we answered.   

Can you please explain why the executive appears to have changed his viewpoint on the debt situation? 

What, if anything, has changed since 2015/2016 to explain this different viewpoint?

Would the executive consider extending the .25% sales tax beyond 2027 to help pay for the justice center/other projects likely in need of debt financing?

In 2015, after inheriting a significant budget hole, Mr. Budish introduced his first, very tight, budget to Council. That budget was developed with guidance from a team he assembled of community finance experts. He made the point at the Council meeting that the County was not in a position to take on additional debt without identifying a means to repay it. He never said that the county had no legal capacity to borrow.

That’s been the administration’s consistent position. For example, in 2017, the County issued bonds, taking on additional debt for the Q renovations, only after identifying a repayment plan.

Since 2015, the County has improved its financial position. The budget has been balanced every year, our reserves are strong, we refinanced some of our debt saving millions of dollars, and other debt obligations have been reduced by paying it off. The County’s bond rating is excellent.

Executive Budish has consistently said we have to weigh our ability to pay off our bonds/debt with dedicated revenue. We have the capacity to borrow – but, like a family or small business, the county can’t rely on a credit card if we can’t identify how we will pay it off. That is not responsible.

Learn more about public financing through bonds in our most recent News Now blog post.