Bluffton mayor continues payments on stadium

August 18, 2008 

Payments on a loan for the expansion of the Bluffton High School baseball stadium are up to date, according to data provided last week by the organization that manages the payments. The latest payment to the Beaufort County School District -- $31,000 -- was made April 15, four days after Bluffton Mayor Hank Johnston provided $24,000 to the fund.

Johnston was a strong advocate for expanding the stadium. When the school district loaned the money for the expansion in 2003, Johnston personally guaranteed that it would be repaid.

Of the original $305,000 interest-free loan, $152,000 still must be paid back to the district by 2013.

Johnston wrote in an e-mail to the Packet on Sunday that he is planning to send out solicitation letters for contributions in September. He wrote that he doesn't think he will hold fundraising events.

In March, the mayor said he didn't have a firm strategy for raising the money to pay $183,000 then owed.

The expansion of the stadium increased the number of seats from 250 to 1,000. Johnston -- as a private citizen -- pledged to raise the money to repay the school district, offering to pay out of his pocket if necessary. So that others could also contribute, Johnston set up The Community Stadium Fund, managed by the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. Three payments have been made and five remain.

The most recent payment originally was scheduled to have been made in February, but the school district extended the repayment schedule by three years. Under the amended schedule, the loan doesn't have to be repaid until 2013. The extension means instead of having to repay the school district $61,000 annually for the next three years, $30,500 must be repaid in each of the next six years, including the April payment.

The Island Packet is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service