THE BALLPARK TIF – OBLITERATING GOVERNMENT CONTROL OF PUBLIC FUNDS BY LOCKING IN PUBLIC MONIES TO PRIVATE AND WEALTHY INTERESTS
It has come to this in West Virginia. In the same year that the state has cut more than $13 million in funding to WVU, the state has approved and signed away multi-millions of state sales tax dollars to build a baseball stadium for WVU.
That’s right. The university gets cut financially by the state, while WVU sports, which are said to be paid for by the ostensibly “self-sustaining” WVU athletic department, gets millions of dollars from the state, via the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) swindle signed into law yesterday.
Why does no one, let alone any media outlet, comment on that scandalous juxtaposition: state financial cut to the university, state financial boon to WVU sports. That’s wrong. That’s backwards. That is what one would expect in a state that ranks dead last in well-being among the fifty states.
No WVU department or programs, office or services should allow the WVU administration to cut a dime from their budgets. No student tuition should be raised. No Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) should be disallowed by the administration. After all, WVU is currently loaning the ostensibly “self-sustaining” athletic department “about $12 million” and is awaiting the approximately $14 million gift baseball stadium from the state (and Monongalia County) TIF scam. So WVU has the money to offset this year’s state cuts to the university. Or, that is, it had the money, before diverting it to the athletic department. The university could readily raise the money by selling some of its investments and assets. Or even by tapping one of its bank accounts or fundraising arms. The university had millions of dollars on hand to lend to the athletic department and is throwing tens of millions of dollars into new construction projects left and right, and WVU recently reported that it saved $17.5 million by bond refinancing and had another $4.9 million freed up when new construction bids came in lower than expected. That alone is $22.4 million – far more than enough to offset this year’s $13.3 million cut from the state. Any cut to the university that WVU administrators blame on the state funding cut would be phony, another lie, and another swindle, not unlike the “ballpark” TIF. (More on that hijacking of public funds in forthcoming posts.)
What’s wrong with this picture?:
As noted previously:
Monongalia County Commission Throwing The Store Wide Open And Then Driving The Get-Away Car
Seeming unsurprisingly defensive, County Commission President Bill Bartolo claimed at the Commission’s meeting yesterday: “We’re not just endorsing a sports complex. We’re endorsing a sports complex, a new [highway] interchange and development on the west side of the interstate.”
Glad to get the goods, WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck stated to the Dominion Post: “We still have a ways to go to get a finished project, but I want to thank the Monongalia County Commissioners for their vision. Today’s approval [on Wednesday] gets us one step closer to being able to say perhaps the three best words in the English language – Let’s Play Ball.”
The public is what is getting played, again. The public is getting ripped off.
Why are public funds (property tax and sales tax dollars) being used to build a baseball stadium for WVU?
Reportedly, WVU will own and operate the stadium built with public funds and made possible only by Monongalia County Commission and state legislature approval. Why shouldn’t the public own the stadium? It’s their money building it. What alternate uses could that money have been devoted to? Were any other possibilities even suggested? Why is the Monongalia County Commission acting as a piggy bank for WVU?
What the region needs built with its tax dollars, far more than a baseball stadium for the rich university on the hill, is a regional indoor-outdoor exercise and recreation and health foods and care center – something like WVU’s student rec center but open and affordable to the public and with a greater healthy living focus and amenities. Indoor year-round public pools for physical and mental well-being through the dark and cold half of the year. And/or what else? When was the public given a choice about how to use these tens of millions of dollars of public funds?
The choice presented was a false one: a baseball stadium or nothing. What a sham. What a theft.
WVU and Fairmont State universities and baseball teams will get the main benefit of tens of million of dollars of public funds, and the public will be offered a fat-making seat in the bleachers and no doubt unhealthy fattening foods, and come wintertime (about half the year) basically nothing from the new stadium.
And it’s worse than that. The public will get basically less than nothing for its funds during the winter, and other times, because those tens of millions of tax dollars will have been blown on WVU and the others, rather than being used to build facilities that could have been used by masses of people with far greater needs and far fewer resources than WVU and local “developers,” the usual suspects. Read the rest of this entry »