The Miami New Times’ Tim Elfrink has an excellent post up about Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’s latest proposed stadium deal, echoing my concerns that it’s no better for taxpayers than Ross’s previous plan. (Literally echoing in one place, since he quotes me.) But Elfrink also points out a couple of additional reasons why this new deal could actually be worse for the public:
- Last year’s Ross plan was for a hotel tax surcharge, “which could have hurt the hospitality business but would have otherwise had minimal effect on the city.” This year’s is for a property tax exemption, which would come out of existing Miami-Dade County coffers. While it’s true that money is fungible and raising taxes isn’t without its costs to the local economy, coupling a stadium subsidy with a tax hike does have different consequences than taking the money out of the county’s existing property-tax proceeds, which would directly hit school budgets and the budget of the troubled city of Miami Gardens.
- The term of the property-tax break hasn’t been laid out — if the county takes over Sun Life Stadium for good, then presumably it’d be permanent — and neither is the term of the lease that Ross would agree to. As Elfrink notes, “if the team signs on for a shorter-term tax-free haven, that just gives the franchise more leverage to threaten to leave Miami-Dade without a new deal in ten years.”
In other words, still lots of known unknowns. But overall supportive of a conclusion that Ross is trying to get away with just about as sweet a deal as last year, those cheery headlines notwithstanding.