Friday, 10 July 2009 00:00
It has been reported that the MTA and the developer of the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn are renegotiating the terms of their real estate agreement. The modified agreement would allow payments over 22 years, at a most favorable interest rate, instead of the agreed-upon single payment of $100 million to the MTA. Another component of this new proposal is a smaller capacity LIRR train yard. The developer is now seeking to provide less than the agreed upon number of tracks for the important work of train storage, maintenance as well as the setting and accepting of equipment for scheduled commutes.
Floral Park and other communities along the Main Line have heard, ad nauseum, about the importance of track capacity and flexibility, therefore, the possibility of the MTA lessening that capacity or compromising that flexibility is inconceivable. In fact, the LIRR, in difficult operating conditions, was able to move 175,000 commuters along its Main Line during rush hour on the reverse commute to and from the USGA Open: morning or evening, eastbound or westbound. Perhaps, when planning its future, the LIRR should look to the quality and expertise of its own engineering staffs and train personnel for solutions rather than the high-priced special interest lobbying groups.
Is the MTA only open to such a regressive renegotiation because now it has a new, reliable stream of revenue irrespective of its performance? Our state Assembly and Senate recently enacted a new tax: the MTA bailout bill. The MTA bailout is funded by a 0.34 percent payroll tax. This tax will provide the MTA with a projected $2 billion annual taxpayer-funded subsidy. These $2 billion will be collected from only 12 counties. This tax, paid by employers, will be felt in the increased costs we pay for goods and services as well as increases to our schools, village, town and county taxes.
This tax will never be repealed, cynically; we all know it will only increase. The MTA cries pauper and our Albany enablers provide the drug it requires, money. The root of the problem is never examined and it is not only money. The problem must be exposed and addressed by our elected officials in Albany, now! The Atlantic Yards development fiasco is illustrative of the MTA’s chronic lack of accountability and oversight. Our elected state representatives must request a full accounting of the project: the agreements, the progress, the costs to date, all of it and represent us! While the merits of this development were commendable the scope of this project has disintegrated as the costs have escalated. Who are the stewards of our tax dollars? Who is responsible? To whom may we ask; what is going on here?
Trustee, Village of Floral Park
Chairman, Third Track Task Force