Friday, January 24, 2014

Tampa Council Will Discuss Whether Stadium is in Their Best Interests

So not only does the city of Tampa not have enough money to build a baseball stadium, but now some people are asking if the money the city could contribute be better-used elsewhere.  And by "people," I'm not just talking about myself this time.

This morning, Michael Sasso writes in the Tampa Tribune that local nonprofits and elected officials don't want Mayor Bob Buckhorn earmarking any TIF money for a stadium just yet:
“The perception is that $100 million was being reserved for the stadium, and we all know that perception becomes reality,” (Councilwoman Yvonne Yolie) Capin said. “That may or may not be the best use.”

The money in question comes from the property taxes paid by downtown Tampa landowners. Through a system called tax-increment financing, some of these taxes are steered into an entity called the Downtown Community Redevelopment Area and used for projects that benefit downtown. For now, the system generates about $12 million to $13 million per year, and those dollars are used to pay off the bonds on the Tampa Convention Center.

Various nonprofits are starting to eye that money, though. The convention center bonds will be paid off by 2016, which could free up the money for other uses.
The city may also have to make a case to the county why it should be able to keep its TIF district downtown once the convention center is paid off, since the county could probably find a few ways to spend those dollars too (Sasso mentions waterfront parks, local nonprofits, and mass transit, just to name a few).

Tampa Council will discuss the issue on Feb. 13.

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