Florida Pilot

A compendium of random thoughts from a former Washington Beltway insider who is now having a lot more fun flying small airplanes in Central Florida.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

lambs to the slaughter

The plan to extract hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to subsize the worst performing team in the recent history of professional baseball is apparently proceeding along well. Below is a copy of a letter to the editor faxed to the St. Petersburg Times. It will be interesting to see if any of it is published.

If someone proposed a plan to reduce St. Petersburg City and Pinellas County taxes by at least $450,000,000 over a period of years by selling city/county-owned property for development and returning the money raised to taxpayers, I’m sure that the St. Petersburg Times would oppose such a plan on the grounds that there are many unmet needs and so many poor residents in the area needing government assistance.

But the recent proposal to turn over $450,000,000 of city/county money to some of the wealthiest individuals in the nation, the owners of the Rays baseball company represented by multi-millionaire Stuart Sternberg, is treated by the paper as a idea that should be seriously considered.

In addition to the poor public policy of using even more taxpayer money to subsidize businesses owned and operated for the benefit of the well-off, the numbers being discussed simply don’t add up. The Trop site is valued at $100 million or so but the city/county owes more than that on the 17 year old stadium they would have to tear down. Maybe a developer would pay $200 million but there would still not be much left over to pay for a $450 million ball field. Worse yet, the $150 million contribution from the Rays company appears to include a $60 million state tax subsidy as well as a slice of the $100 to $200 million to come from redevelopment of the Trop site. The Rays owners probably expect to pocket all of the money from naming rights meaning they would likely walk away from the closing table with a nice pot of cash.

As the saying goes, the rich get richer.


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