Monday, April 17, 2006

"Swinging at Mets project" MetroNY 04/14/06

Swinging at Mets project

by patrick arden / metro new york

APR 14, 2006

CITY HALL — As the City Council is set to vote later this month on the financing plans to build new stadiums for the Yankees and Mets, Councilman Hiram Monserrate, D-Queens, sent a letter yesterday to the Internal Revenue Service for clarification on the legality of the city’s use of tax-exempt bonds to fund the Mets project.

Monserrate, who represents the area around Shea Stadium, has come under fire recently for trying to negotiate a community benefits agreement with the Mets similar to the pact Bronx politicians negotiated with the Yankees.

“Community benefits have nothing to do with the administration being prudent in their approach,” said Monserrate, who’d like the IRS determination before the Council vote on April 26.

He also sent a letter to the Parks Dept. yesterday asking for a new Environmental Impact Statement on the Mets Ballpark, because the city is relying on one completed in 2001.

“As the Council member who represents the area, it is diligence on my part to make sure there is transparency,” Monserrate said. “As every day goes by and the more I read, quite frankly, I have more questions.”

Earlier this week the Independent Budget Office called the Yankees financing scheme to repay $866 million in tax-exempt bonds with payments in lieu of property taxes, or PILOTs, a “very aggressive interpretation” of the law, because the team does not currently pay property taxes and large payments are required to service the debt. The city is giving the Mets a similar deal, with the team seeking $528 million in tax-exempt bonds.


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