Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lucy and that football

So I have to admit I just don't get the ICA.   A month ago they gave preliminary approval to a proposed budget for the city of Pittsburgh with a big $15 million in revenue itemized only as TBD.   There were clearly going to be issues with whatever new revenue source filled in the blank.  You really have to wonder why there were so willing to give the green light a month ago and then reject it out of hand now. What were they expecting with their first vote?

And a minor point in the big scheme of things... but I see the idea that some of the budget hole can be filled by auctioning of stuff from the Civic Arena.  I hate to ask, but would not proceeds from any such sale need to go toward the debts of the Sports and Exhibition Authority(SEA) which is the owner of the arena?  Not like they don't have money issues of their own.  The difference I guess is that they have some dibs on money from Harrisburg that the city can't quite get a piece of.

Speaking of the SEA.  I note that not only the SEA, but even the interminable Stadium Authority have their own Wikipedia entries authored again by prolific wiki author Blargh29. Whomever that is they know their stuff.  The SEA entry has a great line at the top saying:  "Not to be confused with Stadium Authority of the City of Pittsburgh."  How many folks in town can distinguish the two and the policy implicatons that follow?

Some final thoughts.  Time will tell if this is all a brief spasm or if city/ICA relations have come full circle to where they were in the beginning. If you want to dig into the budget revenues a bit, I had put up this interactive graphic of the city's 2009 budgeted revenues in Manyeyes.  And connected to everything are the finances at the casino.  Revenues down there have clearly settled into a range.  No joke how everything comes back to the revenue generating capactiy of the casino.  Harrisburg has forced the universities to wait for money only to flow from the prospective table games; the SEA depends on casino payments to fund the arena bonds; as bad as the city's finances seem to be now and into the future, they depend ever more on ongoing payments from the casino directly into city coffers on top of everything else. and finally the state, which the city will look to as a last resort, is stuck backing up payments to the SEA from the casino to pay for the bonds building the arena.  Got all that?   So everything is connected in all of these debates.  I sense the potential for a cascade failure.


Blogger Rich said...

Luke's student fee only targets a portion of those not paying their way with the City. It doesn't target the real dollars at: (1) a handful of not-for-profit orgs like UPMC and the Catholic Church and (2) suburbanites that have good incomes but the CIty can't reach because it never expanded its boundaries.

I keep stopping by to see your post about untaxable land in the city, the geographic size of the city and white flight, and how this is handled outside Pittsburgh. Guess I will have to be patient.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 11:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shouldn't someone have been talking about that "TBD" a month ago and demanding that the Mayor give us some idea of what he was thinking about? The Post-Gazette? Kevin Acklin or Dok Harris? The tuition tax seemed to come out of nowhere-- after the election.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 2:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went back to the October P-G story you linked to. So apparently the tuition tax idea was floating around before but it certainly wasn't getting a lot of discussion.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 2:20:00 PM  
Blogger Grimace said...

The tuition tax was floating around before the election but it does not seem like universities advertised this to students or that students researched it, since very few students voted in the mayoral election.

All of these funding sources seem like 'stopgap' measures instead of actual reform coming from Harrisburg. There are only so many patches that cities can use to fund their operations.

Pittsburgh and other center cities operate as the economic, health, and educational centers of regions. Many people make good livings working in cities but living elsewhere. These people shouldn't be on the hook entirely for poor fiscal decisions the city made in the past, but it is apparent that the city doesn't have enough residents to fund its operations. Something has to give.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 6:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plainly and simply, this City is being run into the ground by morons. I am referring to pretty much everyone on Grant Street. They are selfish children that are fighting with each other while Rome burns. To begin, the tuition tax is undesirable, but at the same time, what options do we have? Be VERY skeptical of any plan that proposes to fill budget gaps by "improving" things like tax collection, etc. If it were that easy to just "improve" these things and magically come up with $6 million, why wasn't it done before. Simple answer - it aint that easy and aint gonna happen. Next point, selling assets or auctions only produces one time shots of cash - they ain't long term solutions. Next point, the Mayor has so badly ruined his reputation with Harrisburg and the business world he has no credibility to ask for help. Honestly, who would stick their neck out for him now (although someone needs to)? Shields and Peduto are happy to see him suffer even if it means the decline of the City. Besides, what new legislation can these morons propose that will add cost to running the City (Shields?)? How many more money losing operations can we take tax payer money and wash down the toilet (Library)? The whole freakin place is falling apart and we don't have one person with business or private sector experience anywhere in sight. We are doomed. Consolidation anyone?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 8:51:00 PM  
Blogger JenEngland said...

My very important contribution to this conversation is to note that when you asked "How many folks in town can distinguish the two and the policy implicatons that follow?" I thought "ME! I can!" Followed immediately by the thought, "Wait, THAT is what I'm proud of?? Sheesh, I need a life."

Thursday, November 19, 2009 1:17:00 PM  

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