Report: Coliseum may cost homeowners less

The Nassau Coliseum. (July 6, 2011)

The Nassau Coliseum. (July 6, 2011) Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

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Nassau County officials Wednesday touted a report that found the average homeowner could pay as little as $13.80 more per year to finance a new Nassau Coliseum.

"The risks associated with this plan have been minimized and the rewards of job creation, new revenue and an increased quality of life are significant," County Executive Edward Mangano said in a news release.

The report's author, Steve Antonio, acting director of the independent Office of Legislative Budget Review, said to reach the $13.80 figure, the county would have to funnel all the money it receives in a revenue-sharing deal with the New York Islanders into reducing Nassau's general property tax fund levy.

The report is one of several analyses that have begun appearing in the lead-up to an Aug. 1 vote to borrow up to $400 million for a new arena and minor league baseball park.

The budget review office projected that Nassau would receive at least $18.9 million a year in revenue from the new Coliseum. That includes $14 million in guaranteed funds from the Islanders, owned by Charles Wang, and $4.9 million in additional sales and entertainment taxes that a new arena is expected to generate.

The office calculates that the annual debt service on the Coliseum portion of the project will be $25.6 million, leaving $6.7 million to be covered by an average property tax increase of $13.80 per homeowner, over 30 years.

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"If all of the revenue sharing goes to offset the debt service, $13.80 is the net impact," Antonio said.

If the revenue is not used to offset existing property taxes, Antonio said property taxes will go up for the average homeowner by $51.50 per year for the Coliseum alone. Antonio previously calculated that the average homeowner would pay $58 in additional property taxes from the entire project, including construction of a minor league baseball park.

Senior county officials said there is no guarantee that the revenue sharing will be used by Mangano or future county executives to offset homeowner taxes. For instance, the county could use the money to offset budget deficits or to cover expenses.

Deputy County Executive Tim Sullivan said Coliseum revenue will go into the county's general fund "and will be allocated for the county's needs."

Wang has raised the prospect of moving the Islanders unless a new arena is built. A report by Camoin Associates, a consultant hired by the county, projects that Nassau's economy could lose $243.4 million annually if the team leaves the region when its lease expires in 2015. If the Coliseum were to close, 2,660 jobs and nearly $104 million in annual earnings also would be lost, Camoin said.

With Randi F. Marshall

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