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Old 10-14-2011, 08:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyev View Post
In a few days, he's going to give up $9 million of city money just to make the Steelers and Columbus-based Continental Building Systems happy. That move won't attract any new residents to the city and it won't increase the tax base by putting a new office tower on the property tax roles. Typical of his work as mayor.
That is not quite accurate. It is actually Stadium Authority money, which basically makes it SEA money, and the SEA is an independent agency which has financial ties to the state and county as well as the City (its name is actually the "Sports & Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County").
Umm, no. It's not the Sports and Exhibition Authority; it's the older Stadium Authority of the City of Pittsburgh. The Stadium Authority was formed to develop Three Rivers Stadium. It is composed of City of Pittsburgh appointees, all of which report to (and have been appointed by) Ravenstahl. The SEA was formed to develop Heinz Field and PNC Park.

Anyways, the Stadium Authority owns the land, not the SEA. Therefore the sale would benefit the city.

By the way, if what you are saying is true about the proposed sale - it's just going to be used for parking and the SEA will pay more than $10 million to acquire the property down the road - then the property must be worth far more than $10 million. Perhaps a fiscally responsible mayor would ensure it was auctioned to the highest bidder?

If the city was growing in residential population in any meaningful way, tax receipts from the city's income tax would be going up. And they wouldn't still be talking about closing libraries.

Sorry, I'm just used to socially-liberal, fiscally-conservative, ex-accountant lesbian mayors. It's a good way to run a city. The first inner ring suburb to discover this (because Pittsburgh isn't going to) will have a bright future.
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Old 10-14-2011, 08:50 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyev View Post
Umm, no. It's not the Sports and Exhibition Authority; it's the older Stadium Authority of the City of Pittsburgh.
I already noted it was Stadium Authority money, but my understanding is the Stadium Authority turns over excess revenues to the SEA.

In any event, it certainly isn't City money.

Quote:
By the way, if what you are saying is true about the proposed sale - it's just going to be used for parking and the SEA will pay more than $10 million to acquire the property down the road - then the property must be worth far more than $10 million.
I'm not sure what you are arguing here. My understanding was that Stabile was offering to allow the Stadium Authority to buy back the land in ten years if he hadn't developed it. I'm assuming the buyback figure would be $10 million, although I don't know that for sure.

Assuming that was the offer, and Stabile never developed it but just used it for parking, it would mean that Stabile was basically leasing the land for ten years. The cost of the lease would be his financing charge for borrowing $10 million for ten years. I don't know at what rate he can borrow $10 million, but he could probably do it on a secured basis in this case, which means it would probably be a pretty low rate. Hence why I am concerned it would be pretty easy for him to profit just by operating parking lots.

Anyway, I don't think you can extract from that any particular conclusions about how much these development rights are really worth. The best way to find that out would be to have a competitive open bidding process, but I gather they will instead be using appraisers going forward.

Quote:
Perhaps a fiscally responsible mayor would ensure it was auctioned to the highest bidder?
Again, I don't think the money would actually go to the City. More importantly, though, I think the City's fiscal interests would be best-served by having this land be used more quickly, in the highest-value way possible, which should provide a fiscal return through taxation. An open bidding process might have that result, but you would have to be careful with the terms on the development rights to make sure. And you can make a reasonable case for sticking with the Steelers Group, subject to the concessions they made.

Quote:
If the city was growing in residential population in any meaningful way, tax receipts from the city's income tax would be going up.
That's an interesting point, so I checked, and revenues from the EIT have in fact been increasing: they went up from about $68 million in 2009 to $70 million in 2010 (link to PDF, see page viii):

http://www.pittsburghpa.gov/controll...ofPgh_CAFR.pdf

Quote:
And they wouldn't still be talking about closing libraries.
Only 2.5% of the CLPGH's funding comes from the City (link to PDF, see page 14):

http://www.clpgh.org/about/annualrep...10/AR_2010.pdf

It is mostly RAD-funded, and next after that the biggest contributor is the state.

Quote:
Sorry, I'm just used to [the Mayor of Houston].
There are not many American cities more unlike Pittsburgh than Houston--in other words, this is close to as much of an apples and oranges comparison as you could possibly get. In addition to a completely different recent history in their respective regions, Houston is also a HUGE city in the geographic sense--at 579.4 square miles of land area, it is over TEN TIMES the size of Pittsburgh (55.5 square miles of land area). If the City of Pittsburgh was that big, it would take up most of Allegheny County, probably have a population over 1 million, and so on. In short, the City would be in a very different situation, and so would its Mayor.

Edit: EIT revenues were about $65 million in 2008.

Last edited by BrianTH; 10-14-2011 at 09:05 PM..
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Old 10-14-2011, 09:41 PM
 
20,274 posts, read 18,970,275 times
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So here are EIT revenues going back as far as I could get easily:

2010 70217088
2009 67717310
2008 65108103
2007 57329470
2006 50031453
2005 48436582
2004 46638799

Obviously that isn't really a population proxy, or even an employed persons proxy, since increases in earnings per employed person will also increase this measure.

Still, that's some pretty impressive growth in 2007 and 2008 year over year. The growth rates in 2009 and 2010 aren't quite as impressive, but that's when the recession and unemployment really hit employment in the City, so it still isn't bad.

Of course we know from other sources it appears the City's labor force has recently been increasing in size. But I found it interesting to look at this alternative measure.
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Old 10-15-2011, 06:36 AM
gg
 
Location: Pittsburgh
11,683 posts, read 8,065,778 times
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Luke is okay, but he isn't as sharp as Murphy. Murphy was a very good salesperson and had good vision. Luke isn't all that. He is sort of a puppet type that doesn't have strength. I am not a city resident, but if I had voting power, I would consider a change if someone like Murphy was running that was a real hard worker and helped transform things with hard sales to outside money.
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Old 10-15-2011, 07:35 AM
 
20,274 posts, read 18,970,275 times
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Murphy definitely had vision, but his vision was sometimes so bad as to border on the disasterous, such as his vision for retail Downtown.

As usual, I don't know how much of this is coming from Ravenstahl as opposed to people around him, but the vision for the City that has emerged during his tenure is a lot more forward-looking and is incorporating a lot of best-practices in current urban planning.
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Old 10-15-2011, 07:54 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh
201 posts, read 144,741 times
Reputation: 118
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
Murphy definitely had vision, but his vision was sometimes so bad as to border on the disasterous, such as his vision for retail Downtown.

As usual, I don't know how much of this is coming from Ravenstahl as opposed to people around him, but the vision for the City that has emerged during his tenure is a lot more forward-looking and is incorporating a lot of best-practices in current urban planning.
I'm not really sure what vision you are speaking about. There are national trends that have made their way to Pittsburgh (downtown living, riverlife, bikes, etc.). These aren't visionary efforts, they are just part of what is going on in almost every urban center. And I would make the argument that these efforts, while somewhat successful, have not been as successful as they could have been with a mayor who wasn't just along for the ride.
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Old 10-15-2011, 08:07 AM
 
1,151 posts, read 1,138,356 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
I already noted it was Stadium Authority money, but my understanding is the Stadium Authority turns over excess revenues to the SEA.

In any event, it certainly isn't City money.
If it is or isn't, it's still taxpayer money and a board controlled by Ravenstahl doesn't think that the taxpayer needs it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
I'm not sure what you are arguing here. My understanding was that Stabile was offering to allow the Stadium Authority to buy back the land in ten years if he hadn't developed it. I'm assuming the buyback figure would be $10 million, although I don't know that for sure.

Assuming that was the offer, and Stabile never developed it but just used it for parking, it would mean that Stabile was basically leasing the land for ten years. The cost of the lease would be his financing charge for borrowing $10 million for ten years. I don't know at what rate he can borrow $10 million, but he could probably do it on a secured basis in this case, which means it would probably be a pretty low rate. Hence why I am concerned it would be pretty easy for him to profit just by operating parking lots.
I'm not sure what you're saying here. Why would the Stadium Authority buy it back? Because another mayor would naturally want to give money away?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
Anyway, I don't think you can extract from that any particular conclusions about how much these development rights are really worth. The best way to find that out would be to have a competitive open bidding process, but I gather they will instead be using appraisers going forward.
That's why I suggested auctioning it off. That would be a competitive open bidding process. A good mayor would do that. Might even be able to plug some of that pension hole.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
Again, I don't think the money would actually go to the City. More importantly, though, I think the City's fiscal interests would be best-served by having this land be used more quickly, in the highest-value way possible, which should provide a fiscal return through taxation. An open bidding process might have that result, but you would have to be careful with the terms on the development rights to make sure. And you can make a reasonable case for sticking with the Steelers Group, subject to the concessions they made.
But regardless of Stabile actually developing the parcel, market value appraisal would be $10 million rather than $1 million when it came to property tax time (or $0 as t is now).



Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
That's an interesting point, so I checked, and revenues from the EIT have in fact been increasing: they went up from about $68 million in 2009 to $70 million in 2010 (link to PDF, see page viii):

http://www.pittsburghpa.gov/controll...ofPgh_CAFR.pdf

Only 2.5% of the CLPGH's funding comes from the City (link to PDF, see page 14):

http://www.clpgh.org/about/annualrep...10/AR_2010.pdf

It is mostly RAD-funded, and next after that the biggest contributor is the state.
The EIT increased about 3%. Some of that is probably due to wage increases; but I'm sure that about an equal amount resulted from an increase in residency. You'd have to compare previous years, but maybe things are turning around. That would mean Ravenstahl is doing a good job.



Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
There are not many American cities more unlike Pittsburgh than Houston--in other words, this is close to as much of an apples and oranges comparison as you could possibly get. In addition to a completely different recent history in their respective regions, Houston is also a HUGE city in the geographic sense--at 579.4 square miles of land area, it is over TEN TIMES the size of Pittsburgh (55.5 square miles of land area). If the City of Pittsburgh was that big, it would take up most of Allegheny County, probably have a population over 1 million, and so on. In short, the City would be in a very different situation, and so would its Mayor.

Edit: EIT revenues were about $65 million in 2008.
You can still compare them as surely as you can compare the performance of governors of such diverse states as Alaska, Utah, Texas, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Unless you're saying you can't compare John Huntsman to Rick Perry because Utah is so much smaller than Texas, it has a smaller budget, yadda yadda yadda?

Just because a city is smaller doesn't mean that it should have a fiscally irresponsible mayor.
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Old 10-15-2011, 08:08 AM
 
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Originally Posted by markson33 View Post
These aren't visionary efforts, they are just part of what is going on in almost every urban center.
And I'm perfectly fine with that. Adopting current best-practices for urban redevelopment may not take a genius, but it is also a smart strategy for Pittsburgh at this particular moment in its history.

Quote:
And I would make the argument that these efforts, while somewhat successful, have not been as successful as they could have been with a mayor who wasn't just along for the ride.
That claim is impossible to test, but personally, I am skeptical. The City only has so many resources available, and it seems to me like overall it has been using them well.

In short, if all Ravenstahl is doing is saying "yes" to the right things, again, I'm pretty much fine with that. Certainly you can do a lot worse--say by having a more visionary and charismatic leader who happens to have the wrong vision.
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Old 10-15-2011, 08:28 AM
 
20,274 posts, read 18,970,275 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmyev View Post
If it is or isn't, it's still taxpayer money and a board controlled by Ravenstahl doesn't think that the taxpayer needs it.
Or rather it thinks in the long run the Steelers Group was offering a better deal.

Quote:
I'm not sure what you're saying here. Why would the Stadium Authority buy it back?
That was the deal Stabile was reportedly offering--to let them buy it back after ten years if he hadn't redeveloped it yet. The reason to do that would be to actually get something developed there. But I think you are now beginning to understand how Stabile's proposed deal was not such a safe bet.

Quote:
That's why I suggested auctioning it off. That would be a competitive open bidding process. A good mayor would do that.
That would have been my preferred outcome, but again, I think a case can be made for doing what they did, which was using this offer to rewrite their entire deal with the Steelers Group.

Quote:
Might even be able to plug some of that pension hole.
That's why you have to be careful with who actually gets first-dibs on this money--I don't think the Stadium Authority would actually be able to transfer the proceeds to the pension fund.

Quote:
But regardless of Stabile actually developing the parcel, market value appraisal would be $10 million rather than $1 million when it came to property tax time (or $0 as t is now).
Under the new deal they will be reappraising all the undeveloped parcels.

Quote:
The EIT increased about 3%. Some of that is probably due to wage increases; but I'm sure that about an equal amount resulted from an increase in residency. You'd have to compare previous years, but maybe things are turning around. That would mean Ravenstahl is doing a good job.
As always, Ravenstahl may just be a bit lucky with his timing--the City was due for a turnaround. But I agree that the EIT trend seems to support the notion the City has been making significant progress in recent years, regardless of what factors deserve the most credit.

Quote:
You can still compare them as surely as you can compare the performance of governors of such diverse states as Alaska, Utah, Texas, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Unless you're saying you can't compare John Huntsman to Rick Perry because Utah is so much smaller than Texas, it has a smaller budget, yadda yadda yadda?
Yep, I tend to think that doesn't make much sense either (comparing governors who have radically different states, different powers under state law, and so forth). Of course you can look in detail and see what each governor has or hasn't done, but I think "successful" governors often take credit for things they really didn't have much role in creating, and similarly other governors get blame for things they didn't really have the power to prevent.

Quote:
Just because a city is smaller doesn't mean that it should have a fiscally irresponsible mayor.
No, but it does mean you can't figure out who is being more fiscally responsible in any straightforward way, since they are facing very different situations.

Pittsburgh in particular is facing a tough situation financially: it has massive legacy costs relative to its current tax base. Really it should be contemplating a reorganization of its legacy costs under Chapter 9, but state law (and state politics) won't allow it to do that.

Fortunately, during Ravenstahl's tenure the City has stopped the bleeding by establishing a good balance on current operations, and as Ravenstahl will tell you, he hasn't had to raise taxes or take on new debt.

Unfortunately, the legacy cost situation is just getting worse. Ravenstahl tried to take a big chunk out of those unfunded liabilities with the parking deal, but City Council opposed him and opted for an approach their own financial analysts said was a worse deal.

So otherwise, all Ravenstahl can really do is try to promote growth in the tax base, and hope for reform of the relevant state laws at some point. I personally think things have gone reasonably well on the first point, and the second is outside of his control (unless perhaps he plans to run for state office).
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Old 11-10-2011, 12:19 PM
 
Location: Philly
8,904 posts, read 7,861,882 times
Reputation: 2128
Quote:
[LEFT]MEMORY FAILS EX-MAYOR. Tom Murphy was so unpopular toward the end of his tenure as Pittsburgh's mayor that he decided against seeking a fourth term.
But he can't resist continually patting himself on the back for the job he did.
Happened again recently in New Mexico. The Albuquerque Business Journal reports Murphy spoke at a business luncheon about his supposedly swell performance leading our city between 1994 and 2005.
Now an Urban Land Institute senior fellow... some here hated him for proposing grandiose projects requiring significant public investment.
"It takes people a while to get it," he said. .. The only way to reverse decline was to run over it."
...Murphy apparently left out...that ... Pittsburgh was declared financially distressed and went into state receivership under his watch.
No guts, no glory -- and apparently not much of a memory


Read more: Chevy Volt lacks drawing power - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Chevy Volt lacks drawing power - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
[/LEFT]
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