President Obama’s new budget proposes eliminating the ability of cities to use bond issues to help private pro sports franchises finance the construction of new stadiums and arenas.
Interesting that the article notes that this may become a wedge issue inside the Republican party. Traditional GOP’ers that work to help funnel money to business interests are facing opposition from Tea Party Republicans that oppose most forms of government spending.
The sports website Deadspin wonders if Community Benefit Agreements (CBA’s) may be another way to stop pro sports teams from extorting public benefits from cash-strapped cities. The genesis of this article is the struggle over a mandatory CBA ordinance in Detroit. The ordinance has been proposed by a Detroit city councilor disgusted by a city dealing with bankruptcy financing $285 million (over half of the $450 million price tag) for a new arena for the Red Wings hockey team. The Wings owner Mike Ilitch’s net worth is estimated at over $3 billion.
Detroit’s City Council has proposed an ordinance that would require a developer to negotiate a CBA on any project receiving more than $300,000 in tax benefits. The Mayor is opposed, the chamber of commerce is opposed and the state legislature tried to pass legislation to outlaw all cities in the state from passing such ordinances.
But many folks in Detroit are still pushing–especially those living and working in low income neighborhoods whose tax dollars subsidize millionaire and billionaire developers. Check out the site of the Equitable Detroit Coalition and their fight for the Detroit CBA ordinance.
An interesting report has just been issued by the Gamaliel organizing network, a coalition of faith-based community organizing groups throughout the country. Entitled “Jobs And More Jobs–The Economic Impact of Community Organizing” the report details the public and private sector jobs that were created through campaigns around issues such as food deserts, equal access to public transit transportation and better educational opportunities.
This report fills in some of the human details of the report that Gamaliel issued in 2012 that quantified the economic impact of their organizing: an estimated $17.2 Billion in GDP created in the past two years by the new workers.
The community organizing also showcases the use of community benefit agreements and the hiring of ex-offenders returning to our communities–models we hope to expand throughout our communities, state and country.
Western NY Assemblyman Sean Ryan intends to re-introduce the JOBS Act–a bill that would make the actions of the state’s Industrial Development Agencies (IDA’s) more transparent.
“IDA members are not elected by anybody, but they give away millions of taxpayer dollars,” Ryan said. “Under the JOBS Act, the IDA members who approve a project must then submit it for approval to elected officials like the town council. And when there’s public scrutiny, big massive projects tend to go away.”
This interesting article from City and State details some of the concerns of folks from Western NY with the Erie County IDA and how it lavishes tax breaks on corporations that could fund their own projects and do not contribute to the public good.
In Syracuse, we see the same problems–the most recent is an exemption from mortgage recording taxes for new hotels being developed in the Inner Harbor. That decision by the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency (SIDA) means the region’s public transportation system, which is partially funded by that tax, will receive nothing. Millions for rich corporations–nothing for a transit system looking at fare increases and route cuts. I guess we know whose side SIDA is on.
Over 20 members of the Urban Jobs Task Force testified at the monthly Syracuse Industrial Development Agency meeting on June 17th and according to the Syracuse.com article on the meeting
“beseeched the Syracuse Industrial Development Agency, one after another, to impose stricter local hiring requirements on tax-subsidized projects including COR Development Co.’s development of the Inner Harbor.
Unfortunately, the SIDA Board unanimously, AND WITHOUT COMMENT, approved the tax breaks proposed for the entire first phase of the project–a hotel to be built by the Starwood Hotels and Resorts Corp. and planned, yet not detailed luxury apartments. The tax breaks were an exemption from paying the County’s mortgage recording tax and a break on sales tax for materials purchased during construction.
The loss of both of these forms of tax revenue from the project have real-world implications for the residents of our city. Ten percent of the annual budget for Centro, the area’s mass transit system comes from the mortgage recording tax. In addition, the city’s share of area sales tax has become the largest portion of locally-raised revenue for financing city services–police, fire, DPW, Parks etc.
Check out the article on UJTF’s “Gaining Ground” film event held at Tucker Baptist Church in The Stand newspaper: http://mysouthsidestand.com/voices/urban-jobs-task-force-poses-the-question-what-if/