Monday, December 8, 2008

Budget Myth and Budget Fact #5: The Banks

The Myth: If only the County were to cease the Banks Riverfront project, it could put those dollars into its general fund to avoid the cuts that are being discussed.

The Facts: For a whole host of reasons, the dollars being invested on the Banks can not be applied to County's general fund problem. So even if the County announced the cessation of the Banks Project tomorrow, it would not generate a nickel to help the County's general fund deficit.

The primary sources for the initial phase of the Banks development are as follows: federal and state grants specifically earmarked for the Banks, Tax Increment Financing funds (allowable only downtown or on the Banks), the Developer Contribution, the City of Cincinnati contribution, a State Infrastructure Bank loan, an Urban redevelopment loan, and parking revenue (which are limited by bond covenants for riverfront development obligations). In addition, to the extent County staff and preparatory work is being done on the Banks, it is paid for from the separate Stadium fund--not the County's general fund. (And the current county commission has reduced that amount as well in recent years).

The one thing all these sources have in common is that none can legally or appropriately be spent on general operating costs of the County.

Bigger picture, the Banks is part of the solution to the budget problems--which is being driven largely by revenue paralysis. If we grow our economy through development such as the Banks, new housing, growing tourism, developments such as we're seeing in Kenwood, etc., then we grow our way out of the problem.

On the other hand, if we shut down those growth opportunities simply to pay the costs of our basic operations, we trigger a downward economic spiral with no end in sight.


Bearman said...

David...I am happy that the banks is moving along but do you really see it as a windfall to tourism dollars for the long run? While I think it could be an attraction for people coming to town for Red's/Bengals games, based on the plans I have seen, I don't see it as something that will draw in new tourism. The Levee was once hailed as the model of why HC couldn't get their act together and what it should do but going over there now, you see alot of empty stores.

Flying Dutchman said...

Bearman, I won't answer for Mr. Pepper but the big difference between the Levee and the Banks project is housing (both condos and apartments). The Banks will not just be a tourism tool, it will be a neighborhood. The Levee has no housing that I'm aware of. Plus with the two stadiums, the Freedom Center, and the river, there are people already there or attracted to there regularly so you don't need that "new tourism"..

Anne said...

I moved "home" after 20 years and see so many changes. Back in the day there were movie theaters -- Skywalk, Emery, and Real Movies. Now there are none.

There have been improvements, too -- new convention center, ice skating, stuff to do (albeit dwindling) on Main St. (it seems to have taken the place of Short Vine, which disappeared), new arts venues (please don't let Music Hall rot), new schools and housing.

Is the Banks an improvement? It would be a better idea to develop what's already there -- beautiful hotels, acclaimed restaurants, historic buildings in need of serious rehab.

What really needs to happen is to celebrate what we've got:

* Get rid of that ordinance that requires the streets to be rolled up at 9 p.m.

* Improve public transportation by having Metro routes to places people want to go to in a reasonable time (how low-cost would that be compared to a streetcar?).

* Help out the great places that have stayed open for business through literal hell & high water -- Suder's, Findlay Market, Avril's, Shadeau, galleries, museums, etc.

Enjoy your town! Stop razing things and wishing you hadn't. Don't complain about parking costs -- meters are 50 cents for 2 hours, it doesn't get any cheaper! Stop trying to be a big city or a suburb, just be your sweet self.

But you all voted for the Banks while I was out of town, so I guess it has to happen. Can't have too many Starbucks, eh?

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