In today’s Daily News, Richard Ravitch, the budget maven who helped save New York City in the 1970s and the MTA in the 1980s from financial collapse, called on the Public Authorities Control Board to vote down the Hochul administration’s Penn Station Redevelopment Plan.
His complete op/ed is here with a few excerpts below.
Ludicrously low level of transparency
But perhaps the most outrageous thing about the plan is how little we know about it. When I wrote this column Tuesday, for instance, it was still unclear exactly what the state Public Authorities Control Board (PACB) will be voting on today when it is asked to authorize this scheme to fund the station improvements with captured property taxes from the new development. The PACB’s sole authority is to make sure that taxpayers can afford the projects their government is proposing, yet on their agenda for today’s meeting under the “Amount” column for the Penn plan was “N/A.”
That ludicrously low level of transparency is reason enough to postpone this plan. New York State through its Empire State Development Corp. (ESD) and the offices of two governors over several years had more than enough time to disclose how they would finance this project, yet has still not explained in detail why New Yorkers can be certain it will pay for itself.
No explanation of why the Vornado deal is the best option
Nor has the state adequately explained why other financing options, such as bonding or other mechanisms to leverage investment from the federal government, won’t work.