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Financial Blog

Financing of stadiums

Financing of stadiums

Over the past few years, the financing of professional sports stadiums has been a recurring issue for both local governments and sports organizations. Its a similar story every time: The team decides its time for a new stadium, and in order to save money, it gets the local government to help pay for it. The argument made by the teams is that the new stadium will increase spending in the area around it, and the increased tax revenue will be the reward for the government. However, it seems the increased traffic and hassle of going to an establishment near a professional sports stadium actually harms businesses near the stadium.

In addition to the lack of economic boom, cities are left out of the significant amount of money made inside the stadium. Teams make money from the multiple conventions, concerts, and similar events that take place in sports stadiums each year when the teams sport is out of season, as well as through corporate sponsorships and stadium naming rights. Aside from the general taxes on these activities, the cities dont get a cut of this revenue, even though they were a part of the construction-financing group.

This kind of deal is a way for wealthy team owners to increase their teams value and revenue while saving their own money at the expense of the taxpayer. I believe financing a professional sports stadium, while it is often politically beneficial, is an irresponsible financial action for local governments.

NICK BELL

Conway

On that unpaid loan

Regarding Noah Feldmans recent article in the Perspective section, Feldman ignored an obvious solution: Paul Aker needs to pay his $1,500 student loan.

Akers loan is 29 years old and unpaid. Instead, Feldmans solution is for Congress to pass a law, and states to follow. Or at least the Justice Department should make a departmental rule, he says. Where in all this is personal responsibility for paying a loan Aker signed in 1987, and agreed to pay back?

I propose that Paul Aker should have paid his student loan, which amounted to about $51.72 a year over 29 years, not counting interest.

DAWN MELTON MULKERN

Little Rock

Prison farms working

All the while I thought it was extinct. Common sense, that is! However, the letter from Susan Weston of Clinton restored my faith in the human race. She succinctly presented the facts that we should not abandon the present system of prison farms.

State Sen. Eddie Joe Williams and others should realize that one of the principles that has made our nation great is that of free enterprise. Since the farms are self-sustaining and provide food for consumption by inmates and promote learning skills that permit them to become productive citizens, I believe that the old axiom applies. If it aint broke, dont fix it.

FRANK H. BRUCE

North Little Rock

A realistic approach

I think that its time that someone pointed out that a college education is not for everyone. We are doing young people who are graduating from high school a great disservice to make it seem that they are failures in life if they dont go to college.

A lot of young people need to be looking at careers as carpenters, electricians, mechanics, etc., where they will often earn more than someone who goes to college and comes away with a degree in something for which there is no earthly demand in the business world. A realistic approach to education after high school is something that is sorely needed.

JOE WHALEN

North Little Rock

Careful what you wish

The staggering irony of the Democrat-Gazettes opinion pages on the final day of February clearly reflected the bizarre nature of contemporary American politics. Conservative light-bearer Bradley Gitz joined avowed liberal Paul Krugman in warning of the dangers inherent in the apparent triumphant march of Donald Trump toward the Republican nomination for president.

It should have been a sobering reminder that so-called conservative Republican Party leaders ought to have been more circumspect in pursuing their fervent desire to return the American republic to the good old days before Social Security, civil-rights laws, food stamps and fawning diplomatic agreements. Back to the freewheeling times when fearless strong men always beat the bad guys, immigrants were called wetbacks and everybody had to work to make their way in a hard world that gave no concessions to the weak and the helpless.

Now the GOP has its man, forceful and commanding, making a virtue of thoughtless vulgarity, substituting insults for policy and dragging his befuddled primary opponents down into the muddy depths of know-nothingism. If Donald Trump were a race horse, Tornadic Thunder would be an appropriate name--loud, frightening and sure to be followed by chaotic destruction.

All free citizens of a Democratic republic ought to be careful of what they wish for. Alas and alack, fantastical wishes might come true, and malevolent, fanciful dreams become nightmarish reality.

TOM KENNEDY

Fayetteville

Dangerous narcissist

No matter which candidate or party you endorse, I cant imagine anyone would say this election year is the norm.

Please read the following character traits and see if you can identify the person to whom I feel they belong: grandiose sense of self-importance;. preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love; believes that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people; requires excessive admiration (regularly fishes for compliments, and is highly susceptible to flattery); has a sense of entitlement; is interpersonally exploitive; lacks empathy; is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her; and shows arrogant, haughty (rude and abusive) behaviors or attitudes.

These dangerous characteristics are those of a narcissist. I am sure you have figured out that I am referring to Donald Trump.

Someone with this personality would truly be a danger in the most difficult and important position within our government. Just think about how a narcissist would view and evaluate situations of national importance. He doesnt seem to have a clue that he cant run our country the way he runs his business or The Apprentice. He follows no rules but his own.

Should he become president, how will he handle governing our country by the guidelines set forth by our forefathers in the Constitution? Think about it, voters.

KAY HERMANSEN-POOL

Batesville

Editorial on 03/07/2016



Committee recommends final cost levy for drain be passed by council

MINDEMOYA--Despite a petition signed by the majority of assessed property owners for the Mindemoya Drain, requesting that Central Manitoulin reconsider passing a motion for the final cost levy, members of the municipal water, waste and education committee are recommending this final cost levy motion be passed by council.

At a committee meeting last week, Mindemoya resident Steve Shafer stated, "I would like to start out by responding to a question that was asked of me at our last meeting. The question went something like this: 'do you expect ratepayers in my ward to pay for drainage in Mindemoya?' The simple answer is yes, yes I do."

"Ditching and infrastructure has always been costed to general tax dollars. There are over 440 'lane' kilometres of roads and their associated ditches within the township, all built and maintained by general tax dollars, not landowner assessments. Bridges that only benefit a few are costed to general taxes, not the benefiting landowners!"

"So why should we treat the town area any differently than rural parts of the municipality? Ditching is ditching is ditching, infrastructure is infrastructure, all of which should be funded from general tax revenue, not land assessments. Certainly a strong town core benefits all rate payers of Central Manitoulin," continued Mr. Shafer.

"One of the primary reasons that the drainage act was used in this case was to avoid the complicated and sometimes messy process of land expropriation," said Mr. Shafer. "To this end the act has served its purpose. The landowners have been clear from the very beginning of this long convoluted process they had no desire to fund drainage based on landowner benefits. To charge individual landowners to provide basic municipal infrastructure is just plain wrong."

"It goes from wrong to obscene when you consider that the municipality received $1.44 million in funding for this project," said Mr. Shafer. "So with that I leave you this petition signed by the significant majority of the assessed property owners requesting that you seriously reconsider this proposed course of action."

"I agree this has been a long, drawn out process," said Mayor Richard Stephens, a member of the committee. "It has gone through two council administrations. In your letter you referred to 20 years ago when it started." He pointed out the drain project was actually initiated in 2006 after he had a meeting with the principal of Central Manitoulin Public School concerning security and safety issues to and from school. "I asked the principal to send a letter to council, and this was the start of this issue."

Mayor Stephens explained, "the first reference to the drain in the capital budget was in 2008. From there in 2009 it was still on council's agenda. Council made an application for funding at the start of 2010 for a combined drain-roads project with the engineer's costs coming in at $1,568,000, but the application failed."

"The new municipal administration went through a couple of attempts to go ahead with the project, but the funding was not there," said Mayor Stephens. However, "in 2014 an application for funding of both projects was submitted and $1.44 million was awarded in funding. The project went ahead and was concluded and we are at the stage we are at now to fulfill obligations of the drainage act."

Councillor Patricia MacDonald indicated that there are several drain projects have taken place in the municipality  in which those who benefitted have shared in the costs. "I don't think we can treat one differently from another. And the ratepayers had the opportunity of going to the appeal tribunal board on their assessments."

"A lot didn't because we had understood the project would not proceed unless funding was provided and that we wouldn't be burdened with a share of the costs that we are now," said Mr. Shafer.

Councillor Ted Taylor noted that the two projects had been split up, but "at the last minute funding became available for the roads project as well."

"At an all candidates' night, the previous mayor had said that this would not proceed unless funding was made available and it wouldn't be a burden on stakeholders," said Mr. Shafer.

"This was only the mayor's comment, not the rest of council," said committee chair and Councillor Derek Stephens.

Mayor Stephens suggested, "as much as I would hate to defer this further, there is still a lot of uncertainty on the calculation and who is responsible for picking up the tab."

Councillor Stephens mentioned that council had passed the first reading-motion that the final cost levy be passed.

Councillor Alex Baran said the municipality has followed the required regulations in the Drainage Act. He said those that have benefited with the drain have been assessed. But he also explained, "we also have the power to set terms for payment, for say two or three years. We are not in a hostage taking situation here."

"If we have failed as a committee and council it is that this whole process has not been communicated properly to the public throughout the project," said Counsellor Baran.

Mayor Stephens noted, "I still have good reason to think accommodations can be made on the assessments, and he put forward a motion to defer this issue until the assessment process was reviewed, however the motion was not seconded."

Later in the meeting it was moved by Councillor Baran and seconded by Councillor MacDonald that a recommendation be made to council for second and third (final) for the cost levy bylaw to be passed.

"I will be voting against this motion," stated Mayor Stephens. "I have some sympathy for the 125 property owners that are going to be affected."

Committee members Councillors Derek Stephens, Pat MacDonald, Ted Taylor and Alex Baran voted in favour of the recommendation being forward to council for second and third reading. Mayor Stephens voted against the motion.

Comments

Free tax prep available Tuesday and Wednesday

Representatives of the Iowa Center for Economic Success will be at Iowa Lakes Community College in Spencer from 11 am to 7 pm Tuesday, March 22, and from 9 am to 1 pm Wednesday, March 23, to prepare taxes free of charge. Appointments can be made by calling Libby Glaser at the Iowa Lakes Corridor at 262-3474.

Its through an IRS-sponsored program called Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), said Michelle Bartusek, director of education and resources at the Iowa Center for Economic Success. Its for general taxes, ideally for households with incomes of $57,000 or less. But the income threshold is more of a guideline for us. We understand that what happens on paper isnt always whats happening in life.

Bartusek noted the clinic can also prepare returns for Schedule C small business, but not corporate returns.

Those who make an appointment will need to bring identification; Social Security cards for everyone listed on the return; proof of health insurance; birthdates for filer, spouse and dependents if applicable; wage and income statements for filer, spouse and dependents, if applicable; a copy of last years taxes; routing and account numbers for direct deposits; and any other pertinent tax-related information from 2015.

Bartusek noted VITA is a sister program to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

While AARP is more geared toward those over age 60, VITA is geared toward a low-income demographic, Bartusek said.

The appointment takes about an hour, she said, and the return will be filed right at that time.

For the purposes of this, we should be able to finish everything within an hour, she said. We (Bartusek and the other representative) stagger our appointments a little, so we are able to double-check each others work before submitting the return, to make sure everything is accurate.

VITA is new to Spencer this year, Bartusek said, but the town was brought up in discussion because of a board members connections to the area. Bartusek said the ultimate goal is to establish a permanent tax preparation site at the college during the tax filing season.

This is an opportunity for us to dabble a little in the area, she said. The goal is to have a full-time place in Spencer, for designated days during the filing season.

The established location could also help the college students with hands-on experience filing taxes.

We have a lot of partnerships with colleges and universities, and VITA training is incorporated as part of the curriculum for college credit, she said. Students are our volunteers, and they get tax prep experience as well as face-to-face experience with clients.



JOHN BRUMMETT: To spite his face

Asa Hutchinson, working hard to be the governor who spends more money without raising more money--a fine Reagan-esque tradition--announced last week that hed found the solution to the states immediate highway-funding shortage.

The problem is that were driving less with smaller automotive engines and thus buying fewer gallons of gasoline, which means were paying less in per-gallon taxes for road construction and maintenance, the price of which is rising.

Weve become so personally efficient that we cant even match the available federal highway money, except, that is, for several hundred million dollars from a special account to mess up downtown Little Rock big-time with a mega-wide freeway running through its front yard.

Asas solution to the state highway deficiency is ... and lets roll the drum here, please ... Obamacare.

Dont believe me? Heres what Hutchinson said: His highway plan is not workable if we do not have access to the federal funds that are part of the Medicaid expansion.

Thats Obamacare.

Please understand that Hutchinson remains on record wanting to repeal that heathen Democratic program.

There is no indication yet what the governor will propose to solve the highway problem if he gets his way and his solution is destroyed.

There also is no indication whether the governor suffered any personal injury when he ran into himself coming and going.

Asa proposes a two-step:

First, we break with time-honored principle and, for the first time, divert to highways a sum of general revenue, which comes from general taxes like those on sales and income and has always gone to general needs such as schools and colleges and prisons and human services.

Roads heretofore have been paid for exclusively by an entirely separate and independent account comprising road-user fees--motor-fuel taxes, mainly, except for the special sales tax dedicated to highway bonds by voter approval of a constitutional amendment a few years ago.

Second, Hutchinson wants to absorb the loss to general revenue--$75 million or so a year over 10 years--by relying on the hundreds of millions of dollars that Obamacare funnels to us every year to expand Medicaid, which in turn produces additional indirect savings by transferring medical costs from providers and taxpayers to private insurance policies.

If the Legislature fails to achieve a three-fourths majority vote to keep appropriating this federal Medicaid matching money for our nationally extolled private option, then state government suddenly would be down hundreds of millions of dollars in its general revenue budget.

That is to say we then couldnt rob Peter to pay Paul as the governor proposes, because Peter would be a pauper, like Paul.

It is always possible that our anti-government and arithmetically defiant Republican state legislative caucus could fail to achieve the three-fourths majority for Obamacare and the private option. To try to avoid that, Hutchinson is proposing to change the name--to Arkansas Works. He also is asking the Obama administration, the source of all solutions, apparently, to let us base our continued use of Medicaid money for private insurance policies on some kind of work-training requirement for recipients.

So to summarize: We must embrace Obamacare in Arkansas or we will wind up with potholes so big theyll swallow up our little energy-efficient cars.

Meantime, let us not forget the underlying affront of taking money from schools, colleges, prisons, police and social services to divert to roads.

Hutchinson says all our abutting states apply general revenue to roads--as if its a good thing to emulate the nations most primitive jurisdictions, places like Oklahoma and Mississippi.

Hutchinson would have you believe this is a simple matter of dedicating some of the annual surplus that otherwise might be squandered by legislators on local play-pretties back home.

And thats actually true enough. But lets be clear. He proposes to use $48 million of the surplus each year for highways. That means the $48 million is not surplus, but a regular budget item.

Pre-emptively dedicating $48 million of expected collections in excess of budget outlays is a back-door entry that puts you in the same place as if youd come in through the front door and appropriated $48 million directly through the general revenue operating budget.

Its offensive and troubling, but probably do-able without extreme pain or horrid injustice--if, that is, the Obama recovery continues and Asa fails in his effort to repeal Obamacare and cut off his own lifeline.

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John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was inducted into the Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame in 2014. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.



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