Bristol, Va. city council meets to examine restructuring $76 million of debt


BRISTOL, Va. - The Bristol Virginia city council is meeting to look at restructuring some of its debt, much of it due to the falls development.

The council members are examining options to refinance $76 million dollars out of the more $100 million the city owes.

"Well there's over 105 million in total debt," Bristol, Virginia Mayor Kevin Mumpower said. "I think it approaches 108 million."

The $76 million the council is evaluating consists of $26 million in bonds from the general and solid waste funds, and $50 million from the Falls development. The $50 million for the falls is in short term bonds, due in 2021.

"If you default on any of the bond payments, obviously that would affect your credit rating," Mumpower said. "That affects your ability to go out and refinance, or get any other bonds for any reason, so we have no intention...we will figure out a means to pay the bonds. "

City Manager Randall Eads said the council is examining several options and plans, including two to restructure the $50 million owed on the Falls and two to refinance the whole $76 million.

"So the last thing we want to do is raise taxes," Mumpower said. "So we're looking at all the other options to maximize the revenues we can get, so we don't have to raise taxes."

Councilman Bill Hartley said some new revenue streams are in the works.

"For example, there's the developments downtown with the hotels," Hartley said. "So we know when they come online there will be the real estate tax from their investment, as well as the meals and lodging tax."

People in Bristol, Virginia could end up paying higher taxes if those extra dollars are not enough.

"So we can't say that we won't," Mumpower said. "Because in the event that you've done everything you can to raise the other revenues and that's the only option you have, then that's the only option you have, because you can't miss your bond payments."