Monday, November 11, 2013

Sulphur Dell ballpark project represents $150M investment, Metro's share $65 million

Sulphur Dell ballpark project represents $150M investment

The Nashville Sounds will contribute $50 million and Embrey Development Corporation, a leading multi-family developer, will contribute $37 million. Metro's participation is $65 million, under the proposal.

.... The deal includes a land swap between Metro and the state, and a commitment from the city to fund construction of a 1,000-vehicle capacity parking garage costing nearly $20 million.

My Comment: I am not going to have an immediate knee-jerk reaction opposing this project but I urge the Council to move slowly and take seriously the obligation to evaluate this project. I assume Metro's share and the new garage would be funded out of general obligation bonds. Are we being set up for another tax increase? Will the project pay for itself in new revenue?

Right now, Nashville is the "it" city and we have plenty of optimism and reason to be pleased.  However, we should not let it go to our head. We must avoid euphoria and thinking we are bullet proof. Nationally the recovery has been very slow and most economist predict continued slow improvement. With the slow down in the economy expected from the implementation of Obamacare however, the impact of a new government shutdown or failure to raise the debt ceiling, the eventual economic consequences of a constantly growing national debt that Congress will not address, and the potential of massive inflation as a result of continued "quantitative easing,"  one cannot be certain that even the prediction of very low but steady growth is not a rosy prediction.  If the national economy goes into a tailspin or even another recession, then companies my cut back on conventions and we may have to struggle to pay the debt on the Music City Center. I am not sure now is a good time to keep borrowing money.

From the proposed spending of $6.6 million dollars to expand a magnet schools while refusing to close or consolidate any underutilized schools, a proposed $6 expansion of pre-K although there is scant evidence spending on pre-K increases educational outcomes, to spending $8.2 million to turn a former school currently used as an office building back into a school, to spending a half million dollars to keep "Nashville" filming in Nashville, to the proposed spending of $30 million as Metro's share of a $75 million dollar Bus Rapid Transit system route from Five Points to White Bridge Rd, to a proposed spending of $16 million for a pedestrian bridge connecting the Gulch to So Bro; we are spending money like it is going out of style. This project or any one project may have merit and make sense but debt is cumulative. Are we overextending?
There are a lot of things that would be nice to have, but we can't have it all. Last year we had a property tax increase. If we are going to avoid the next tax increase we have to control spending. Many people like spending, but not tax increases, but tax and spending are opposite sides of the same coin. The Budget and Finance Committee needs to be deliberative and ask tough questions. I wish we had fewer "yes" men in the Council and more skeptics so I could feel comfortable that financial issues have been carefully evaluated.

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