EDITED because I did a stupid thing and didn't notice that the original number I used was a Net Present Value calculator.
EDIT AGAIN: There is no lockbox.....so the whole crux of this is that there should be a lockbox. I am very sorry for mis-reading the language of the referendum and am incredibly embarrassed.
Some interesting news came out yesterday, as the clerk of the legislature has received the full text of the areener referendum.
On the whole, the referendum, is fairly standard stuff, but it does include something that I'd been hoping for: it creates a dedicated fund that will be used to collect revenue-sharing payments and pay the debt service, estimated at around $26 million a year for both the areener and the minor league baseball stadium (we also had news on that, as Long Island Ducks owner Frank Boulton was selected to bring an Atlantic League franchise to the new complex - quick, someone copyright "Expressway Series!").
This was the amendment suggested by Legis. Dave Denenberg (D-Merrick) at the May 31 legislature hearing that approved the election date, but it was tabled for being out of order (not submitted before the deadline for that session). It's the only thing that makes sense for the referendum, and it provides maximum protection for taxpayers.
I don't want to get too wound up here, but moving the revenues from the areener into the Nassau County general fund would have been nothing short of disastrous. Had the money been available, it would have suffered the same fate as Social Security: the money would have been spent 10 different times every year for different programs, leaving the debt service unpaid and increasing tax burdens on citizens. It would have created far more problems than it solved. Actually creating a separate fund would serve as, if I may, a lockbox, to protect the money from being raided and make 2000 Al Gore very happy:
While this is a good move, I still have one big question about its application. As of right now, it's unclear if tax revenues from the areener and any future development on the Coliseum site would also be included in this "lockbox," and that could end up being a huge issue.
As you may or may not know, the Town of Hempstead, which has not suffered for murdering the Lighthouse Project in any way shape or form, recently approved The Shire (the gutted zone) for development, all the while still pushing the ridiculous lie that the actual reduction was not that great (if you include parking structures in the "new construction" total, which the Lighthouse did not). Let's ignore the fact that it took them a year to approve their own idea and concentrate on the fact that this opens the door for additional development on the Coliseum site, and this could end up being huge for the referendum through additional tax revenue.
I've been reading the 2006 report commissioned by the Nassau Legislature for the Lighthouse Project. Before anything else, I highly recommend you don't read the report, because it will make you very angry with Kate Murray for doing what she did. The Lighthouse Project at its peak was projected to bring in north of $62 million in direct tax revenues for Nassau County EVERY YEAR. That's a long way toward closing the deficit, eh?
Let's leave that bit of misery for a minute and concentrate on the numbers. We know the Town's zone is nowhere near the size and scale of the Lighthouse, but it will still generate tax revenue. In fact, let's slash those projections by 80% (the rumored reduction is 61%, but it's unclear what effect this has on the tax base of the area, so I've chosen to be more conservative). The remaining number is still $12.5 million, which, if added to the minimum payment from Charles Wang, produces....
Enough to pay the debt service, run a surplus on the property, and not have to pass any additional tax burden onto Nassau County homeowners. For this reason, I hope future development is included in the "lockbox," because it will be the best chance Nassau residents have to not pay for it.
Blogger's Note: I got a mailer from Legis. Denenberg yesterday, and it included the claim that the new tax line would be a guaranteed $58 per year expense to all taxpayers. We've disproved this over and over again, and I hope the legislator misspoke and intends to correct this. $58 is the expense incurred per household per year if Charles Wang never makes any payments and the arena never makes any money, so to suggest it's a guaranteed tax is disingenuous at best.
Second Blogger's Note: Stay tuned the next few days for more news and analysis, in addition to an endorsement on the areener vote, a guide to get involved, and my plan for election day. As always, thanks for reading.