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BatteryPark.TV obtained the Fiscal 2014 budget for the BPCA. As usual, it is loaded with pork and contracts to cronies. Some notably egregious and inexplicable spending that caught our attention was:
- $329,000 to support Chairman Dennis Mehiel: Although Mr. Mehiel does not take a paycheck for serving on the BPCA, his support staff costs $315,000.
- $874,944 for in-house legal: In addition to spending $1.24 Million on 26 different law firms, the BPCA spends another $875K to have its own in-house team of lawyers. Uggh, why?
- $283,610 for a “Diversity Program”: This is just a pure shakedown by state legislators with minority voters. $50,000 went to a “translator”. $83,000 went to pay for a “Diversity workshop”. $35,000 went to pay for ads? Really?
- $505,550 for “Public Information”: That crack BPCA staff which is paid to essentially mislead the community (then get fired) cost $327,250 in payroll. The current Chief Information officer is Robin Forst, who has no experience other than having run a local Democratic political party club, and then failed to win election for the lowest form of elected jobs. More concerning, however, and under investigation now by the New York Civil Rights Department now, is the spending of $72,500 to design a website, and another $35,000 for website maintenance. Former head of contracts for the BPCA, Kirk Swanson, alleges that those contracts were improperly awarded.
- $300,000 for Asphalt Green’s utilities: Why is Asphalt Green, which charges high membership fees and is not delivering anything other than premium Equinox-like services, being subsidized?
- $1.5 M to repair a leaky roof over Asphalt Green: This classic construction cronyism is an obscene waste of money. The BPCA has discussed this in public.
- $7.5 M for an unnecessary bridge: The West Thames pedestrian bridge should cost $3Million, based on the cost of the “temporary” Rector Street bridge, but since it is just a pork project, it will cost more than $30 Million.
- $9.3 Mill for parks: This is the only legitimate spending item. It pays for the Parks Conservancy and upkeep of the parks.
What is not in the BPCA budget is the most scandalous. There is no line-item for “affordable housing”, which is the main reason the BPCA was created in the first place back in 1968!
The total revenue of the BPCA for F2014 is projected to be $241,325,000. All of that revenue comes from property taxes paid by the residents and businesses within the 92-acres of Battery Park City. However, only $28,111,777, or 11.6%, will be kept and spent on the community of BPC.
The remaining $142,027,000 will be given away to the city, ostensibly to spend on affordable housing. However, there is no evidence whatsoever that the fungible cash ever makes it was to a single affordable housing unit. It would be much more logical to spend the $140 Million on quality affordable housing grants and buildings within BPC.