Tuesday, February 17, 2009

And where in the stimulus bill might money for AY come from?

So, where in the stimulus bill might there be money for Atlantic Yards? There aren't too many places and there's surely much competition for relatively limited funds.

Discretionary funding

There's some discretionary money for governors; the emphasis is on education but "other government services" are included. Take a look at Division A of the Recovery Bill and go to p. 429 of PDF:
(b) OTHER GOVERNMENT SERVICES.
(1) IN GENERAL -- The Governor shall use 18.2 percent of the State's allocation under section 14001 for public safety and other government services, which may include assistance for elementary and secondary education and public institutions of higher education, and for modernization, renovation, or repair of public school facilities and institutions of higher education facilities, including modernization, renovation, and repairs that are consistent with a recognized green building rating system.

(Emphasis added)

Of $53.6 billion, 18.2% would mean $9.8 billion spread nationally--not a huge amount of money for each state. The National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) calls it the State Stabilization Fund, which has "flexible funding for governors’ priorities." (NASBO states that includes $8.8 billion, but I think that's a typo--it should be $9.8 billion.)

Mass transit and housing

NASBO also identifies $9.3 billion in the bill for mass transit. (I couldn't find the reference.) The bill has provision for a "Public Housing Capital Fund." There's also $1 billion for a "Community Development Fund," but that money would go to grantees that received funding in FY 2008.

There's an additional $2.25 billion nationally for "capital investments in low-income housing tax credit projects;" New York State would get a relatively small fraction.

Might that involve Atlantic Yards? Well, the December 2006 KPMG report (p. 21 of PDF) to the Empire State Development Corporation states that developer Forest City Ratner would be eligible for such tax credits, a benefit of $95,000 to $165,00 per unit. Then again, the stimulus bill says that not less than 75 percent of the funds would have to be committed within a year.

Overview in the press

The New York Times, provides an overview of the impact of the stimulus on New York, identifying "$24.6 billion for Medicaid, education, transportation, and other priorities."

Drilling down, the newspaper reported $1.3 billion for transit projects, "nearly all of which would go to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. About $500 million would go to the Fulton Street Transit Center in Lower Manhattan. As for the rest:
The authority has a long list of other projects that could get some of the stimulus money, including subway and commuter rail station renovation and improvements to behind-the-scenes infrastructure like rail yards and shops.

The Vanderbilt Yard was not on the MTA's initial list, but the decision is apparently in the hands of Gov. David Paterson.

Ban on stadiums proposed

On February 8, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn pointed out that the Senate version of the stimulus bill included an amendment that would not allow stimulus funds for, among other things, a stadium.

That stadium ban has since been removed, and I haven't found an explanation. Could it be that Forest City Ratner lobbyist Al D'Amato was earning his keep?

The amendment was proposed by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), a libertarian. It stated:
None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.

The amendment was inspired by the efforts of Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman to gain stimulus funds for a "Mob Museum." (Click on graphics to enlarge.)

Would that have affected the Atlantic Yards project? An arena is not a stadium, but arguably the amendment was aimed at sports facilities. And it's hard to imagine that Paterson would have tried to use federal money to directly subsidize the arena.

Perhaps there was concern that the amendment might have been interpreted as affecting any part of a project that included a stadium or arena. Hence a reason to get it modified.

Ban on stadiums, cultural centers removed

The main modification came, as the New York Times reported Monday, in that museums, theaters, and arts centers were no longer excluded:
That Senate amendment, proposed by Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, had grouped museums, theaters and arts centers with implied frivolities like casinos and golf courses.

Perhaps because of the speed of legislation, Coburn's amendment had gained votes from Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who generally support such cultural efforts. Schumer told the Times he was unaware of the amendment's language--though he was quickly alerted by angry arts advocates.

I haven't been able to find an explanation of why the word "stadium" was eliminated.

For the final text, look at Division A of the Recovery Bill and go to p. 488 of the PDF:
None of the funds appropriated or other wise made available in this Act may be used by any State or local government, or any private entity, for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, or swimming pool.

1 comment:

  1. Shovel-ready projects are a great way to jumpstart the economy, provide hundreds of thousands of jobs for architects, designers and construction workers, and begin to make our nation’s buildings greener. However, the American Institute of Architects is urging everyone to remember that long-term planning is just as important. If we don’t invest and plan for our future, then all of our efforts in the present will go to waste. Learn more on our blog, The Angle (http://blog.aia.org/angle/).

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