Monday, June 16, 2008

"Public to MTA, Yanks: Enough already!" AM New York 6/12/8

Public to MTA, Yanks: Enough already!
By Marlene Naanes |
8:21 PM EDT, June 12, 2008

New Yorkers have heard it all before and they say they've heard enough.

When big-ticket projects around the city are facing cost overruns, delays or funding difficulties, outstretched hands tap the public coffers. Somehow, some way, New Yorkers feel the cost always trickles down to them.

"The public always gets the brunt of it," said Andrew Steinhandler, 27, of Astoria. "There needs to be an end to asking for public support."

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said this week that fares could go up sooner than expected if the state and federal government doesn't help relieve the agency's hundreds of millions in deficits.

At the same time, the Yankees said they are seeking $350 million more in public financing than it had originally agreed to in order to build its new stadium.

The latest came from the governor in his request for an audit on the World Trade Center site redevelopment. Gov. David Paterson's letter to the Port Authority hinted that the project could be facing delays and cost increases.

Enough, New Yorkers said.

"I have a tough time swallowing any kind of hardship the MTA might complain about," said Brian Oakes, 34, of Clinton Hill. "Every year or two years it seems like there's a hike in fares."

The Yankees probably knew they needed extra financing help all along, said a frustrated Robert Bernstein, 36, of Chelsea. "They tried to sell us on the sizzle and now they say they need more money."

Taxpayers feel the Yankees, the MTA and any other entity seeking more financing should look to bail themselves out instead of dipping into the public's pocket for more money.

The MTA said in a statement Thursday it has and will continue to tighten its belt. Yankees representatives did not respond to requests for comment. The Port Authority said it is conducting the governor-ordered assessment.

The Yankees' request received the most ire from public officials. Assembly members sent a letter Thursday asking for a hearing to examine why private sports projects have received support while other public projects have not.

"We can't fund the MTA capital plan yet someway we can find ways to fund a stadium," said Assemb. Richard Brodsky (D-Westchester).

One taxpayer said people who oversee publicly-funded agencies or projects need to do a better job managing funds and predicting for the future.

"Everything just seems to be increasing, so I don't know if the economy a viable argument anymore," said Claire Pujol, 25, of East Harlem.


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