July 23, 2012

Rio Nuevo Releases Legal Opinion

The Rio Nuevo Board has released a legal opinion issued by legislative counsel and forwarded to Senate President Steve Pierce that was requested by Rio Nuevo in an effort to clarify the authority of the District to invest in projects other than the convention center and convention center hotel. The 2009 legislation required that the Rio Nuevo board issue a Notice to Proceed on a hotel and convention center project before spending any public monies on anything else other than day to day expenses.

Such a Notice was issued and amended in October of 2010, although the project was never initiated. The drafters of the legislation have reviewed the Notice and minutes, and have concluded that a proper notice was issued in October 2010 (see attached opinion).

“We are grateful that legislative counsel has responded so quickly and are consulting with our attorneys on how this opinion should be incorporated into Rio Nuevo planning for future projects,” said Fletcher McCusker, Rio Nuevo Chairman.

“While the opinion supports flexibility in the ‘go forward’ authority of the District, we know that we cannot act unilaterally. The city is required to match Rio Nuevo funds and, by law, has to agree on any and all Rio Nuevo projects. This opinion also doesn’t change our economic development priorities: The TCC, a headquarters hotel, and initiating projects on the Westside,” McCusker added. “Furthermore the Rio Nuevo board has committed significant financial and auditing resources to a forensic examination of the district’s expenses during the time it was city controlled and that remains our primary focus,” McCusker concluded.

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