Capital City Watch: County leaders pledge to probe controversial convention center fundraising plan

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Leaders in Richland County, South Carolina, promise to address questions raised about a controversial Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center (CMCC) expansion in downtown Columbia, SC. Specifically, they have acknowledged receipt of a report exposing unrealistic projections related to this project – as well as unnecessary government-subsidized boondoggle related to it.

“I have received and reviewed the analysis,” Richland County Council Chairman Paul Livingston wrote in a letter to the former secretary of commerce of SC Joe taylor and representative of the State Kirkman finlay, who commissioned the analysis. “As Chairman of the County Council, I intend to continue to ensure that we take into account all available resources and analysis before taking action on major projects and initiatives affecting our community. “

Livingston added that he looked forward to “an ongoing productive dialogue” on the project.

Honestly, I’m not sure exactly what there is to “dialogue” here. This project is simply not feasible – even in the best circumstances. In addition, its associated boondoggles would unnecessarily expose taxpayers to enormous risk.

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My media widely covered these findings, which concluded that even if the most optimistic economic forecast materialized for the city, the CMCC would continue to run annual operating deficits ranging from $ 300,000 To $ 900,000 over the next two decades.

More realistic growth projections have shown that deficits have soared over the next two decades, ranging from $ 1.8 million To $ 2.9 million annually – while the CMCC would lose $ 2.6 million To $ 3.9 million annually if it were to continue its current growth trends.

Since then, I have pointed out how county leaders could more fruitfully use the $ 231 million they propose to waste on a parking garage linked to this facility – namely by Richland County could strike checks in the amount of $ 556 to each of its inhabitants.

I also discussed how this proposed parking garage is nothing more than a “debt instrument” – a way for the wealthy California-based project developer to “leverage additional capital for the convention center project. without having to invest his own. money at stake.

“It’s a way for a developer to complete a half-billion-dollar project without having to put a dime into it. Richland County Council Member Joe walker said last month. “And if the income is insufficient, the county would be responsible.”

When the income is insufficient, more like that… not “if”.

That is why I have been vigorously opposed to state taxpayers being put on the hook for any part of this proposed expansion.

Unfortunately a $ 9 million ownership of the project was one of many political expenses hidden in the Palmetto State record $ 32.1 billion budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.

My thoughts on this mess have been very clear: For decades Columbia has been a place where speculative real estate scams like this are thrown on taxpayers with no regard for necessity, logic, feasibility, sustainability or profitability. – to say nothing of the economic consequences felt by those who are forced to foot the bill. The same goes for scams imposed at the county level.

The result of all these policies? As I reminded readers last month, this is “a regressive and anti-competitive fiscal and business climate that unfairly shifts the burden of government boondoggles onto the backs of working class citizens.”

This is why Columbia is not developing like other parts of the state …

“The question now facing city and county leaders is simple: do they want to exacerbate this pernicious climate or improve it? I wrote last month. Or in more succinct terms: do they want to continue to be part of the problem or start to be part of the solution? “

Looks like we’ll know very soon where Livingston and his colleagues stand on these critical issues …

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THE LETTER …

letter-county-richland

(Via: Richland County)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: FITSNews)

Will folks is the founding editor of the newspaper you are reading now. Prior to founding FITSNews, he was press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, besides having a lot of kids, he has a LOT of hats (including that classic University of South Carolina “Block C” cover pictured above).

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