This article asks a question. I do not have an answer. I just want to show both sides of the story and provide some food for thought.
The article is based on two articles–the first from (Long Island) Newsday yesterday, and the second from CBS News on Thursday. Both articles have to do with a voter referendum on August 1 concerning a new coliseum for Nassau County, New York.
The article at Newsday reports that Camoin Associates, a Malta, N.Y., consulting firm that advises municipalities on economic development, has given a report to Nassau County stating that if the New York Islanders Hockey team fails to renew its contract in 2015, it could cost the county 2,660 jobs and nearly $104 million in annual earnings and approximately $8 million a year in tax revenue.
The Newsday article gets to the heart of the matter:
“Nassau residents will vote Aug. 1 on whether to borrow as much as $400 million for a new hockey arena and minor league ballpark. Islanders owner Charles Wang has threatened to move the team if a new arena is not built.”
The article at CBS News states:
“The Nassau Interim Finance Authority said Thursday that if a referendum to $400 million to renovate the Nassau Coliseum passes, it would likely result in a 3.5 to 4 percent average property tax increase.”
The article at CBS News also states:
“Desmond Ryan of the Association for a Better Long Island said there were too many unanswered questions to support the renovations.”
There are a lot of good points on both sides here. Charles Wang originally made an offer to the county that was privately paid for, but included development in addition to the coliseum renovation. His proposal would have impacted his cash flow in such a way that his private funding of a new coliseum or renovations was a good business move. The county turned it down. The question is not whether or not the coliseum needs renovation–it does. The question is who should pay for it. Because the county turned down private funding, their only option now seems to be public funding.
I understand the argument that the renovation will raise taxes, and I hate to see that happen to anyone–the problem is that when taxes go up, they rarely go down. If the referendum goes through and taxes are raised for the coliseum, what are the chances of them going down when the predicted revenues from the new coliseum are collected? One the other hand, if the referendum is not passed and jobs and revenues are lost, wouldn’t everyone’s taxes go up to make up for the loss of revenue?
I meant what I said–I don’t know what the answer is. I hate to see the county rather than a private businessman rebuild a coliseum. Who owns the coliseum after the country rebuilds it? I also hate to see people lose their jobs, the county lose the revenue, and people’s taxes go up to make up the difference. I hope the voters of Nassau County have more insight into this situation than I do!