On August 1st, Nassau County taxpayers will have one opportunity to defeat a proposed $400 million bond issue that will cost over $800 million during the life of the bond. The New York Daily News and others looked at the facts related to this bond issue and concluded it is a very bad deal for Nassau County taxpayers.

Nassau County Exec Ed Mangano's plan for a taxpayer-financed hockey arena makes no sense


Monday, July 4th 2011, 4:00 AM

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is pressing to put the public on the hook to erect a potential money pit for the Islanders.
Warga/News, Craig
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is pressing to put the public on the hook to erect a potential money pit for the Islanders
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano is acting as if he got beaned by a flying puck in his scheme to have taxpayers borrow $400 million to build a new home for the Islanders hockey team.

His finances have been taken over by a state control board because Nassau is $176 million in the red and hasn't a clue as to how to close the deficit. Yet Mangano is pressing to put the public on the hook to erect a potential money pit for the team, owned by multimillionaire Charles Wang.

So afraid is Mangano that Wang would move the Islanders that he's throwing around pie-in-the-sky-projections of a self-financing bonanza. Well, if this is such a lucrative proposition, by all rights Mangano should welcome Wang to raise money privately for construction.

He dare not, because no bank would pony up funding on affordable terms. That's how sound an investment Mangano wants to make.

The Yankees financed construction of the new Yankee Stadium. The Mets financed Citi Field. And that's what Wang should do to replace the aging hulk of the Nassau Coliseum.

As an added benefit to city taxpayers, the Yankees and Mets now, in effect, own the stadiums and are responsible for maintenance. Unbelievably, Mangano boasts that Nassau would still own the coliseum when the whole thing should be privatized.

Nassau's fiscal crisis and state takeover are the rough equivalent of what happened to New York City in the 1970s. Imagine how the world would have laughed back then if, amid the meltdown, Mayor Abe Beame had proposed selling bonds to pay for a new Madison Square Garden. Mangano deserves similar hoots.

His proposal calls for the county to get an 11.5% cut of Wang's coliseum revenue plus marked jumps in sales and other tax collections from stepped-up attendance at a new arena. But his numbers are so rosy as to verge on delusional.

For example, they call for the Isles' attendance to leap by 3,600 fans per game from a league-anchoring 11,000 and stay there for three decades. They also call for jumps in ancillary businesses that hardly exist now.

If anything turns out less than optimal, it's the taxpayers who'll end up holding the bag.

And that's going to happen right from the start. To sell the bonds, Mangano will have to pledge county property tax revenue. He'll likely have to raise the rate by 3% or more to pay the debt service.

Question: Is he blithely unaware that Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature agreed to a 2% max property tax cap?

Nassau voters will have a chance to kill the arena scheme in a money-wasting referendum set for Aug. 1. But the strange midsummer timing and low level of public awareness may let Mangano get it through.

Fortunately, he would still need a supermajority vote of the county Legislature and then the approval of the Nassau County Interim Financial Authority, his state minders. If need be, one or the other should kill this lunacy.