Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bruce Murphy On Abele's Arena Scheme

Bruce Murphy, writing at Urban Milwaukee, gives his take on how Chris Abele bailed out Scott Walker on the bad arena deal.  After complaining about how the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Dan Bice covered the story, Murphy also points out that Abele's scheme won't work.  Then comes the good part (emphasis mine):
Speaking as a city and county taxpayer, I appreciate Barrett’s unwillingness to raise property taxes to pay for the arena. I appreciate the fact that city officials have been “defensive” negotiators — or what might better be termed “tough” negotiators — in demanding that the Bucks pay property taxes on all development beyond the arena, including the practice facility, adjoining restaurants and other development, all of which was going to be tax-exempt in Walker’s original proposal. (I’m told the plan has been amended to remove these exemptions, but I’ll believe that — gladly — when I see it.)

As for Abele’s promise to improve the arena deal to “bring more value” to it, I see no evidence that happened. All the data suggests an NBA arena has little or no economic impact on a city. Adding a provision empowering tougher debt collection won’t help the economy. And Abele’s latest idea, offering county land for $1 to the Bucks for ancillary development, adds insult to injury for taxpayers. If the land is really so hard to develop (and the city’s success developing its portion of Park East land suggests that’s untrue), then why not offer the land to all developers for that price and pick the best proposal? As far as I can tell, Abele’s “can do” approach consists of not negotiating with the Bucks or state officials over anything and simply complying with any idea they suggest.
Considering that Murphy is usually a big fan of Abele, that he would rip into him now says a lot.

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