IF TAXPAYERS BUILD IT, WILL THEY COME?
This website has weighed in previously against the government-funded downtown “revitalization” project known as Bull Street – joining a chorus of opposition that (at one time) included attorneys for the city.
Don’t get us wrong we’re all for revitalizing urban areas – we just don’t think taxpayers should be forced to subsidize such projects. We especially don’t think they should be forced to subsidize them to the tune of $71 million.
Anyway, organizers of this so-called “public-private partnership” want to build a baseball stadium on the property – an addition which would double the city of Columbia, S.C.’s current debt payments from $1.3 million to $2.6 million annually.
According to project organizers, the baseball stadium is essential to the long-term viability of the Bull Street project – a key moneymaker for the celebrated redevelopment.
“A recent economic impact study shows that Bull Street development with baseball will add $1.2 billion a year in increased economic impact for Columbia and create 11,000 new jobs,” a proponent of the project wrote for The Minority Eye website.
Really? Because that sounds eerily similar to pie-in-the-sky promises made about previous downtown Columbia, S.C. “public-private partnerships.”
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that these numbers are correct, though: Does that justify a taxpayer investment? Seriously … let’s go ahead assume the Bull Street project would have a million-to-one return on investment … does that make mixed-use developments (with or without baseball stadiums) core functions of government at any level?
In our humblest of estimations, government should have the simplest, narrowest set of core responsibilities: Cops, courts, roads, bridges … and very little else.
We believe taxpayer subsidization of any sort of “economic development” project is wrong because it provides select individuals or companies with a competitive advantage that isn’t available to everyone else … an advantage that is in fact being paid for by everyone else.
That’s crony capitalism, people … and we oppose it on principle no matter how good the deal looks on paper.
Speaking of, we have a pair of simple questions for those touting these big money returns on Bull Street: If this project is such a “home run,” why do the developers need tax money? Why aren’t they raking in the private investment?