Stupid political tricks


According to yesterday’s City Paper, the city of Nashville has finally agreed to allow the Nashville Sounds (or minor league baseball team) to build a stadium along the Cumberland River. Here is the City Paper’s report (broken down with my comments, of course):
 
Yaeger said the stadium would cost roughly $43 million. Of that, $23 million would be provided by a coalition of 12 local banks. About $20 million would be provided by the city, mostly through tax increment financing.
Tax increment financing? This is a lovely BS term that means the cost of the stadium will be paid off through taxes on the revenue it generates. It allows Mayor Bill to say: "This will not be produced at the risk of the property taxpayers of Nashville." This means the government cam say "no tax dollars are being spent to build this stadium" or "no public financing will be used."
 
Government Math? Of course, as the bottom line is the city will pay out now (real dollars created by taxes) and get it back via a mechanism it would have received regardless of what was built (only other options would not require refilling the coffers, as no imaginary "no public funds" money would have been spent up front).
Goverment money laundering through the turnstyles of a third rate baseball team. How cool!
 
Want a better picture? Picture two scenarios:
 
Scenario 1: Someone comes in and builds a theme park on the spot (it was an alternative thrown in the mix early on). Theme park is built by the theme park owner, on his dime. He opens and collects taxes on food and goods sold in the park, as well as tickets and hands this to the government, for the amount of … oh, $2,500,000 per year. In addition, the park pays $3,000,000/year in lease payments. Here is the ten year plan:
 
Public money spent to finance: $0
Tax collections over five years: $25,000,000
Money for lease: $30,000,000
Net to city: $55,000,0000
 
Scenario 2: The government builds a new stadium using "no public financing" by throwing in $20,000,000 to build the stadium. It agrees to also pay $500,000 for maintenance each year, while the Sounds pay $3,000,000 in lease payments each year. The stadium pays off its loans with tax money from food and goods sold to the tune of … let’s keep it even … $2,500,000/year.
 
Public money magically created for stadium (as there is "no public financing"): $20,000,000
Tax Collections over ten years: $25,000,000
Maintenance payments: $5,000,000
Money for Lease: $30,000,000
Net to City: $30,000,000
 
The bottom line is we now have $25,000,000 fewer dollars (even more than the $20 mil we spent using "no public financing"). How do the politicos feel about this?
  • Councilman David Briley is concerned about the amount of tax increment funding. He is not concerned that public financing IS actually being used, just the amount. But don’t worry, Mayor Bill has covered his fears by showing we originally were going to finance more than double this amount. Thanks mayor, it feels so much better when you only screw us for half the amount of money. Briley is also interested in running for mayor and having wireless access for everyone (okay, the last one is pretty cool for a geek like me, despite its $300,000 price tag, paid for by "public financing").
  • Councilman Jamie Isabel is concerned about the lack of minority participation in the project. As long as we are throwing some scratch at the minorities, it is okay to screw all of Nashville, right Jamie? As an aside, Jamie Isabel’s other pet cause is stopping police from using Tasers, which was prompted by the death of Patrick Lee, whose autopsy shows that his aggitated state and drug usage were the primary factors in his death, not the Taser.
  • Michael Craddock is against using tax incentive funding or money from the sales of the other land to build the stadium. You go boy!

It seems strange to me that Nashville owns some prime land on the Cumberland River that it wishes to piss away in another bad deal. But, at least Mayor Bill can say he was not screwed over as badly as the Coliseum deal with Bud Adams, right?

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