Friday, November 1, 2013

Downtown Tampa Stadium Money in Jeopardy?

Kevin Wiatrowski and Mike Salinero write in this morning's Tampa Tribune (sorry, link not available) that Hillsborough County is making moves to reclaim property taxes the city of Tampa has been enjoying the last few decades in the form of its community redevelopment areas (CRA).  Also known as a tax-increment financing (TIF), these regions re-invest locally a portion of county tax dollars when property values in that neighborhood rise.

"Ideally, it's not going to be a case going forward where we continue to put 100 percent into the tax increment area," county manager Mike Merrill told the Trib.

The Downtown Tampa CRA has also been the preferred funding mechanism for any potential new Rays stadium discussions, capable of financing up to $150 million in bonds over the course of the next 30 years. (Not enough to fund a stadium, but its a start)

And while the county may ultimately think a baseball stadium is a good use of those dollars too, it stresses a point made on this blog a few months back: potential stadium dollars might be better-used elsewhere.  Transit proponents, the Sheriff's office, school district, county transportation department, and parks & rec department are just a few of the hungry hands hoping for a few more dollars.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn made it clear the city would prefer to keep control of the millions of CRA dollars each year.  But in the county's view, county property tax dollars are county property tax dollars.  And as much as it says it is committed to community redevelopment too, the county wants the freedom to spend its tax dollars in other ways, if it so chooses.


  1. Wow, tax dollars being spent on safety, education, infrastructure, and green space, instead of boondoggle sports venues.

    What a novel concept.

  2. If the team owner wants a new stadium, then the team owner should buy the property and build the new stadium. Why does it always fall on the taxpayers? I mean they fund the stadium and still have to pay to see a game. Put the money into transit.

    1. It's called city investment! Like a paved road, a library, or a park, but w/ a lot great return...

    2. Not all city investments make great returns:

    3. My point was that "not all city investments" are designed to make money, unlike a sports stadium that is...

  3. Noah you need learn to do math -- this is getting boring.

    First Bobby said $100 million available from CRA for infasturcture around the stadium like ROADS, SEWER, POWER, TRANSIT, from CRA.

    Second, he said $100 million. The article you can't cite says the Downtown CRA collects $19 million a year. Half that is city money or $8.5 million (it's actually more based on the way CRA's are calculated could be up to $12 of the $19 million if new buildings are kept in the CRA and old buildings are sent to county general fund). But minimum the city will have $8.5 million a year. $100 million bond only requires about $7 million even at a high muni interest rate of 6%. Leaving about $1.5 million a year for other things. So the mayor has committed a dime of county money to his $100 million.

    Third, Merrill doesn't suggest using that money for other things he suggests using it to subsidize 5 to 6 new CRA districts. Without saying what they will fund ...

    Fourth, is Ken Hagan really against a stadium?

    1. Appreciate your input. Of course, I'd appreciate it more if it was right.

      1) Buckhorn said in August the Downtown TIF could be bonded out at likely more than 10x rate, which would be more than $130M (the CRA brings in $13M/yr right now). He also said it would be the city's biggest contribution toward the likely $600M price tag on a stadium...he never said it would be limited to infrastructure.

      2) In both FY12 and FY13, the Downtown CRA took in $12.7M total:

      3) The new CRAs are separate from the current city's CRAs. Merrilll says the county wants its money back; but it also believes in community redevelopment, which is why its looking to create new CRAs of its own.

      4) Hagan is pro-stadium. But he - and other commissioners - have also pledged no tax dollars for a stadium. Hagan can bend the promise by saying "he didn't really mean" CRA tax dollars when he said "no tax dollars," but if the CRA money is rolled into general revenue, it'll be much much harder to convince a conservative commission to approve a taxpayer-subsidized stadium.

  4. "Appreciate your input. Of course, I'd appreciate it more if it was right."

    Game, Set, Match – Pransky.

    Besides this pinheaded argument, who cares if it's $10 million or $300 million? It's easily in the millions and it's a finite, public financial resource. There's already plenty of stadiums in the area, as if that's the real issue.

    The money can ALWAYS be better spent on real, tangible outlays that the general population can enjoy without getting ripped off for $60 for a ticket and a hotdog. There's plenty of restaurants and local businesses that could benefit from the improvement in services. Last time I checked there's no pro-sports franchises going out of business.

    1. "Aha, Paula!, you got something on your nose!" "Aha, Paula!, also your knees look dirty" Original thinking doesn't seem to be to popular on this blog...