Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Public Deficits

Charles Bagli reports this morning in the NY Times on the questionable-and shifting-nature of the Yankee Stadium deal-with the city agreeing to a new bond offering as costs continue to rise: "With opening day for the city’s two newest baseball stadiums only four months away, the price tag for taxpayers continues to rise.The Bloomberg administration has issued fresh estimates for utility work, lighting and the cost of replacing the parks and ball fields that once stood where the new stadium for the Yankees is being erected.The city also plans to issue $341.2 million in additional tax-exempt bonds on behalf of the Yankees and Mets to complete the stadiums, whose combined cost is about $2.2 billion."

It's a good thing we're not in a recession, or experiencing a massive budget shortfall, or all of this might be considered serious: "The city and the state are also investing more than $660 million in parks, garages and transportation improvements around the stadiums and are providing the teams with an estimated $500 million in tax breaks related to construction materials and other items. The city had planned to issue a public notice of the latest bond offering and a required public hearing on Monday but decided to wait at least a week until it completed a cost-benefit analysis. With public costs mounting, critics of the deals say the city will be hard pressed to demonstrate that the economic benefits of the stadium projects outweigh the cost to taxpayers."

First decide to do the offering, and then conduct a cost benefit analysis? Maybe the city can get AKRF to do the work? At least it's good to know that Fiscal Mike is our mayor-someone who knows where the buck is-and stops: "Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has insisted that the city will earn a profit on its investment. And based on the city’s 2006 cost-benefit analysis of Yankee Stadium, the city would earn a net return of slightly more than $40 million over the bonds’ life. Since then, however, project costs have swelled considerably. For instance, the city says it will cost $194.7 million to replace Macombs Dam Park and the ball fields now covered by the new Yankee Stadium on 161st Street, up 50 percent from the 2006 estimate of $129.2 million."

This is, however, no surprise to our friends at Good Jobs, New York-persistent critics of the deal from the get go-as we see in the editorial written last month for the NY Daily News: "In a recent column, Seth Pinsky, president of the city Economic Development Corp., led Bronx Boro News readers to believe that the new Yankee Stadium going up across the street from the current stadium is a gold mine for the community. Anyone questioning the project wasn't "in his or her right mind," he wrote. Sadly, Pinsky's arguments are just the city's latest whitewash. It's the Yankees that are mining the gold - at taxpayer expense."

With the city's mounting deficits-with huge cuts in some services on the way-we are once again confronted with evidence that Mike Bloomberg is simply not the man, or the mayor, he pretends-or wants us to believe-he is. The Yankee Stadium deal underscores the extent to which Bloomberg is a big ticket kind of mayor; promoting the large and grandiose at the expense of shrewd governance and accountability to the city's tax payers.