Support the Crespogram
HOW POLITICIANS HOODWINK YOU INTO BELIEVING THAT IN USING YOUR TAX DOLLARS TO UNDERWRITE THE SETUP COSTS FOR PRIVATE BUSINESSES THEY ARE SPENDING YOUR MONEY WISELY
A couple days ago I posted a story of how the Miami Shores Village Council had initially discussed in June of 2016, the idea of purchasing the single family residence at 9301 NE 2nd Avenue and coverting the property to an expansion of Optimist Park, and now, at Tuesday's Council meeting they are instead proposing hiring a real estate broker to market the property as the site for a restaurant.
Politicians aren't prohibited from changing their minds - although when that change of mind involves a public benefit WITHOUT a business enterprise attached to it morphing into a business enterprise grafted to a pubic benefit, it's always a good idea to be skeptical and question how this change came to pass.
All too often these kinds of changes are predicated on a claim that you hear often from politicians looking to shield rewarding some deep pocket campaign donor or politically connected wheeler-dealerby claiming that their reason for spending public money for some economic development deal, or land purchase, or leasing of public property that will benefit their pals is really a way to raise more revenue without having to take more money from taxpayers by raising taxes.
In fact, when you really look at the financial mechanics of how these deals are financed and structured, you can only conclude that a lot of these deals are little more than a game of three-card-monte where the taxpayers end up getting tricked and hoodwinked out of their money.
Given the past behavior of the Miami Shores Village Manager, the Village Attorney and the members of the Village Council to support sweetheart deals like the revised lease agreements with the operator of the Golf Course, the purchase of the Catholic Charities building - which several months ago was the subject of a discussion regarding the possibility of selling the property because nothing had been done with it - along with the efforts to get the voters to support spending $20 million dollars for a new Recreation Center - which I was told by someone who was privy to Tom Benton's intentions was that a decision was made BEFORE the vote as to who would be the contractor for that project - all are evidence that residents need to exercise extreme suspicion about any deal that this Village Council makes whenever it claims to be engaged in a deal for the public's benefit.
The current proposal by the Miami Shores Village Council to provide a public benefit AND at the same time generate revenue for the Village by turning the house on NE 2nd Avenue into a restaurant is lacking in any kind of financial information that would allow the residents of being able to make an informed decision as to whether this is a good idea, and more importantly, just how the Village would benefit financially from this deal.
After 3 public discussions about this deal, the agenda of this week's Council meeting includes 2 rough architectural renderings of a floor plan for a restaurant, along with a rough cost estimate of what it would cost to rehab the building
Missing from these disclosures are any projections of the ancillary costs to the Village, and/or what kind of revenue the Village could receive from approving this deal.
None of this is rocket science.
For instance, the architectural renderings show the restaurant providing seating for 64 diners and 4 people at the bar. How many employees would such a enterprise require? Where would they park? How about customers? Where would they park?
How about hours of operation? Would this be a restaurant that provided breakfast, lunch and dinner? Or would it be a lunch and diner restaurant? If so, what would the hours be?
What about Impact Fees? What about the cost of installing the gas line? What about extending the Sewer line, and the County's Impact Fees associated with hooking up the restaurant to that line?
What about the failure to do any outreach to the folks living in direct proximity to this property who purchased their homes with the expectation that they were going to be living in a residential community, and not next to, or down the street from a restaurant?
These are all questions that residents should be entitled to and provided answers for BEFORE any decision is made.
Unfortunately from the way that deal this has been handled so far, it would appears that the Council has chosen not to do any homework before they approve this deal, and then whatever decisions are made, would end up being made in secret, after what would be the last public discussion about this proposal.
There are plenty of consultants capable of coming up with financial projections for how much money a restaurant like this could generate, and in turn what kind of rent the Village could expect to receive
Village Manager Tom Benton got permission at the December 6th Council meeting to spend $5000 to hire a professional to provide assistance in coming up with the plan to convert this property to a restaurant. Hiring such a consultant to provide this information was the other thing he should have done in late December when he accepted the services of Victor Bruce to do the architectural workup.
IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT THE MONEY
The Village decided to purchase of the property after it had gone into foreclosure, and had accumulated approximately $70,000 in Code Enforcement liens.
The Village ended up purchasing the property for $445,000, and instead of collecting any of that $70,000, in unpaid liens, they agreed to forgo the $70,000 and agreed instead to persuaded the guy who had successfully purchased the property, to resell the property to the Village by paying him $45,000 for his time and trouble.
Here is the total cash outlay the Village has spent so far:
$445,000 - for the purchase of the property
$45,000 - premium to the owner
At the Council meeting, they want to discuss the idea of hiring a real estate broker to market the property as a restaurant, and as part of the agenda packet, there is a rough cost estimate from a local architect for refurbishing the house to make it restaurant ready.
This rough estimate comes to $258,000.
If, on Tuesday, this proposal passes and the Village Council agrees to spend this kind of money to rehab the house as an inducement to someone to come in and operate a restaurant, then the total cash outlay by us, the residents of the Village, will be:
At this point, there is no doubt that the members of the Village Council will congratulate themselves on how they've successfully succeeded in providing a public benefit for the Village, and that they've also created a much needed new revenue stream for the Village.
In fact, if this were a private transaction, and you or I wanted to open a restaurant and went to a bank to get a loan to cover the purchase and rehab costs the $707,000 would be considered the loan's principal, and that money would have to be paid back, along with interest.
Politicians almost never look at the money they spend this way.
Every year governments essentially give away billions of dollars to support so-called economic development projects, that in far too many cases go belly up, fail to meet the deliverables they agreed to, or even come close to generating the supposed tax revenue benefits that were claimed by the politicians as the justification for giving away this money to begin with.
If the Village Council chooses to convert the property into a restaurant and spend money to rehab the building, then before the Village can claim to have collected a single penny that can be called revenue, ALL of that money needs to be recouped.
How many years do you think it will take for that $707,000 to be recovered by the Village before it can claim that it is generating revenue from this deal?
Yes, we own the property now, but the members of the Village Council never bothered to actually engage with any of you on how that property could best benefit the community.
Instead, contrary to any claims that they didn't, they conspired among themselves, and no doubt with a handful of folks who shared their views, and now, with the skimpiest of information, they want to ramrod this deal down your throat, because they know that the odds are that few of you, no matter how much you bitch on social media will actually show up, and even fewer of you will come armed with factual and detailed information to challenge whatever bullshit they tell you.
Tuesday night will determine whether they were right to think that way!
MIAMI SHORES #2 - MARCH 4, 2018
Last March, in advance of the election for the Mayor and new members of the Miami Shores Village Council, I videotaped the Candidate's Fourm hosted by the Village Homeowners Association.
One of the questions asked was whether the candidates would support incentives to get restaurants and other businesses to open in the downtown area.
The answers are now relevant because the Village under the leadership of Mayor MacAdam Glinn the Council instructed the Village Manager to purchase a single family residence at 9301 NE 2nd Avenue in the hopes that a restaurant would occupy that house.
The Council meeting tomorrow includes a discussion item that proposes an addiitinal expenditure of $240,000 in public money to rehab the property as part of the deal.
I think you'll find Mayor MacAdam Glinn's answer to the question of using incentives to attract restaurants to the Village's downtown district informative, and reveals how willing the Mayor is to change his mind when it comes to spending public money.