Thursday, May 22, 2014

They're Down With OPM

City mulling extra $3.5 million for Nicollet Mall project
After receiving just below what they sought at the Legislature to renovate Nicollet Mall, city leaders are mulling whether to contribute $3.5 million to the project in order to leverage promised private dollars.

The overhaul of Minneapolis' signature street is expected to cost $50 million. The Downtown Council has said they are prepared to match up to $25 million, but the Legislature awarded the project $21.5 million in the final bonding bill.

“Since we got something less than $25 [million], we’re talking now about what we might do so as not to leave money on the table, if you will," said David Frank, the city's director of transit-oriented development.

"We certainly don’t want to leave any money on the table," concurred council president Barb Johnson. "And our project budget is $50 million. So we’re going to have to talk about how that gap gets filled.

Just the latest example of how casually our leaders discuss spending other people's money (ours that is). In theory you can argue that the city is indeed "leaving money on the table" because it won't get the full $25 million in promised matching funds from the private sector. However, getting that $3.5 million in private funds involves finding a way to finagle another $3.5 million out of public funds otherwise known as dollars taken from us in the form of taxes.

No one quoted in the story floated the radical notion that perhaps, just perhaps the city could scale back its plans and spend a mere $43 million on the Nicollet Mall renovation instead of the original proposal to drop fitty million on it (chances that said project actually comes in at or below that estimate about as good as Wolves winning NBA draft lottery). Why even consider that option when it's other peoples' money you're talking about spending?