The readers’ forum

Put taxpayers before stadiums

 

Rodney Barreto continues to make disingenuous statements about the Super Bowl being a panacea for Miami-Dade County and that the sky will fall if the Florida Legislature and mayor reject Stephen Ross’ new Dolphin Stadium deal. His prediction that tourism will suffer and jobs will be lost unless the NFL is enticed to grant us a Super Bowls every five years is absurd.

Several articles have touted Miami’s hotel occupancy as being among the highest in the country. In March 2012, a Herald headline said, Miami-Dade County Sees Record Tourism in 2012 — up 3.5 percent from 2011. And, the South Florida Business Journal, in November, 2012, reported: “Miami-Dade County tourism figures reveal a strong demand for the market … ranking No. 1 for revenue per available room … and average daily rate in February among the top 25 hotel markets.” The upward tourist trend is continuing in 2014 — all without a Super Bowl. Barreto’s comments were self-serving — he is head of the South Florida Super Bowl Bid Committee — and were soundly rejected in the Herald’s non-scientific poll when 69 percent of respondents voted against the new Dolphin plan.

Ross’ latest proposal is a step in the right direction. However, will he be entitled to an income-tax deduction equal to the value of the stadium if he transfers it to the county? If so, could this mean hundreds of millions of dollars to him?

My biggest concern is the loss of millions of annual property-tax dollars were Dolphins Stadium to be transferred to county ownership. These taxes are part of the general fund and pay for everyday necessities like libraries, public schools, child services, parks, fire and rescue operations, etc. I am glad that County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert appear to have focused on this major annual revenue loss.

Miami Gardens would lose more than $1 million annually in property taxes, which that city can ill afford. There is some irony in this because, according to Mayor Gilbert, Miami Gardens pays its police to cover events at Dolphins Stadium, without compensation.

Chapter two of our sports fiasco is in its embryonic stage with the arrival of David Beckham and his financial group, who want a stadium and a commercial complex on PortMiami property. We are in the process of constructing a $1 billion tunnel to the port, as well as a major project to dredge the channel for the new wave of shipping as a result of a wider Panama Canal. Our port is the primary engine of development for our community. A stadium and a commercial enterprise will only bring more congestion and inhibit development that, if enacted, will rival the Marlins debacle.

Proposals to raise property taxes while considering these outrageous subsidies is an insult to our community, and I vigorously oppose them. With a county budget of more than $4 billion, there is enough waste to meet the responsibilities of our libraries as well as other priorities. Remember the promises that were made when we voted an extra half-cent sales tax to improve our transportation system? Those dollars flowed into the general budget with promises never kept.

Norman Braman, Miami

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