Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Syracuse Taxpayers Smarter?

Well, while we are taking our sweet time here in Albany to get a bigger stake of the highly lucrative convention center industry, those folks up in Syracuse are boldly moving ahead. Seems like they already have a convention center. But they are not content to sit back and just reap the rewards. They just decided to spend a bunch of their money on a brand new Marriot Hotel to add on to their convention center. These people will not be swayed from their vision by any reports from the Brookings Institute saying the convention center business is in a downward spiral. Onward brave taxpayers!

But check this out. The taxpayers are chipping in $30 million for this deal. And as we know from the Brookings report, Mayor Jennings, Jack McEneny and Fred Lebrun...convention centers are supposed to lose money. It's expected. So the tax payers are on the hook for $30 million and will lose money on their investment. So how about the other parties involved in the deal, are they going to lose money?

"convention hotel developers usually expect a 20 percent to 25 percent return on their investment. " Oh, so Marriot plans to make money on the deal?! How novel.

"Heuber-Breuer is to be paid $2.5 million as the project's construction manager, according to the agreement's project budget" Not too shabby. I bet Mr. Heuber and Mr. Breuer will make some nice donations to the politicians that are giving this the green light.

"The agreement also does not put a ceiling on the cost of modifying the parking garage to accommodate a walkway from the hotel, a risk if the garage needs major changes since the county is responsible for upgrading the garage" More debt for tax payers!

SO, after the tax payers have kicked in all this money to make a great new hotel for their convention center and make lots of money for everyone involved (except them) what happens if this hotel is sold to someone else?

"Despite the public subsidies, Onondaga Hotel Ventures would be the sole owner and the only party that would stand to gain if the hotel were sold at a profit"

And remember in Albany the project will also throw $20-$40 million to Wall Street to float the bonds.

So, everyone that comes to the table expects to make A LOT of money off of this deal except the taxpayers? Of course they do.

Albany County taxes just went up 28% this year.

If you are a taxpayer I think you can either 1) wake up or perhaps 2) get a job in government and start ripping the rest of us off.