Hollywood Casino chief blasts troubled Howard Bend Levee District | Local Business

William Arsn

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Workers with the city of Maryland Heights and the Levee District build berms out of gravel on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 to hold back flood waters alongside Missouri Highway 141. The highway is closed on both sides from Creve Coeur Airport Road to Creve Coeur Mill Road due to flooding from Creve Coeur Lake. Photo by Colter Peterson, [email protected]

MARYLAND HEIGHTS — The head of Hollywood Casino warned Tuesday that the troubled Howard Bend Levee District, whose debt was downgraded to junk status this month, could end up in bankruptcy.

Michael Jerlecki, Hollywood Casino vice president and general manager, made the statement during the levee district’s annual property owners meeting. He said the district was making “failed business decisions.”

“Absent new leadership, I fear the district may end up in bankruptcy or receivership sooner rather than later,” Jerlecki said in a written statement.

The levee board, at the same meeting, told landowners that it might have to start charging 20{5667a53774e7bc9e4190cccc01624aae270829869c681dac1da167613dca7d05} more in levee assessments to make up for payments the casino is refusing to pay.

Since 2019, the casino has been in litigation with the levee district, arguing the district was mismanaging money. Annual debt payments need to be made on some $22 million in outstanding bonds. To cover those, the levee district says it will have to raise rates, and the credit agency Fitch Ratings Inc. said the district has indicated some property owners could see increases of as much as 70{5667a53774e7bc9e4190cccc01624aae270829869c681dac1da167613dca7d05}.

The financial uncertainty surrounding the levee district is the latest twist in the future of the low-lying land along the Missouri River, eyed for years by developers but left mostly untouched because of a lack of pump stations and stormwater infrastructure.

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