Council to Seek New Ways to Pay Debt

The Thousand Oaks City Council has agreed to explore a proposal by Councilman Mike Markey to consider new ways to pay off the internal debt created by the building of the Civic Arts Plaza.

In a 5-0 vote, council members asked city officials this week to prepare a list of alternatives for paying off the debt. The options will be discussed during the council's Jan. 31 budget meeting.

The council also unanimously approved a motion by Councilwoman Jaime Zukowski to consider not only the Civic Arts Plaza's $64-million construction cost, but the $22 million it cost to acquire the land.

Markey estimates the internal debt at $13 million, but Councilwoman Elois Zeanah places it around $20 million, arguing that the land costs created additional debt.

Much of the money needed for the center came from long-term bonds, which will be repaid over 30 years. But the city also tapped internal funds from numerous departments--money set aside for everything from golf courses to insurance.

The council initially had planned to replenish the department funds by selling the former city hall building on West Hillcrest Drive. But no buyer has stepped forward, and the debt is accruing interest.

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