PROVO — Utah County commissioners recently held a public hearing to discuss a proposed $45 million bond to finance a convention center in downtown Provo.

The bond would be paid over 30 years through tourism taxes, and the interest rate would not exceed 8.5 percent, according to proposed parameters for the bond. Commissioner Larry Ellertson said he expects the rate to be closer to 5 percent and the bond about $41 million.

Final architectural designs for the convention center won't be complete for another six months, but a vote to issue bond likely will take place next month, commissioners said.

Joel D. Wright, a Cedar Hills resident who is planning to run for county commissioner next year, was the only person to speak during the public hearing. Wright said he supports the commissioners' decision to build a convention center, but he's a little worried about where the money would come from in light of a bill Rep. Craig A. Frank, R-Cedar Hills, is sponsoring that could remove the restaurant tax rate and instead give elected officials an option of adding a one-tenth percent increase to general sales tax.

Commissioner Steve White said he's not worried about the bill and that commissioners will make sure the bill will be harmless to the county's bonding plans.

White said revenue would have to drop by 50 percent before making bond payments would become a problem. The total amount the county will have to pay back with interest will be close to $67 million.

Bonding and building right now in the current state of the economy would save the county at least $30 million, White said.

Construction of the convention center could start in the spring and be finished by late summer 2011, he said.

It's proposed the convention center be built on 200 West, between Center Street and 100 North, near the Provo Marriott. It is planned to be three stories tall and 120,000 square feet, with a 20,000-square-foot exhibit hall and an 18,000-square-foot ballroom.

e-mail: [email protected]