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At the October 22nd Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) board meeting, details of the proposed F2014 budget were discussed. The timing of the board meeting coincided with the successful sale of more than $800 Million in bonds. The following are some of the highlights of the discussion:
The expected revenue for 2014 is $226,175,000, which is an 8% increase over 2013 due to increases in your real estate taxes (i.e. PILOT charges). In a separate story, we estimated that this amount equates to $10,500 per apartment unit in Battery Park City (BPC). Combining the increase in revenue with a decrease in spending, the BPCA was proud to announce that it will deliver an extra $16 Million of your money to the city, as opposed to spending it on BPC.
The capital budget, or portion of the F2014 that will be spent internally on BPC infrastructure and services, is proposed to be $48.5 Million. That is an increase and described by CFO Robert Serpico as “aggressive”. The recent bond issuance raised approximately $100 Million in new revenue to be spent on BPC, which raises the question of where the remaining $51.5 Million will be spent or invested.
Gwen Dawson, the VP of Asset Management, went over the line items of the capital budget.
Upgrades to “IT” costing $750,000 are in the proposed budget. Since the BPCA office is small, and “IT” is really just about 30 PC computers and a website, $750,000 seems exorbitant.
A “River Terrace crosswalk” will be constructed. It is unknown what that could be other than painted stripes on the street (if you know, please post a comment).
The Irish Memorial will finally be budgeted in for repairs. However, the fate of the memorial is very uncertain. Board member Martha Gallo interjected and stated that the creation of the memorial was controversial, and was constructed poorly. Chairman/CEO Mehiel then called for further studies to determine the ongoing repair costs. Of note, there seems to be no Irish heritage group stepping up as a “Friends of the Irish Memorial”.
One million dollars will be spent on “studies” to determine how the BPCA might work with FEMA to “harden the assets” against future hurricanes. Another study will be funded to determine which assets need long-term redesign and upgrades (This is all in addition to $2 Million recently spent to “study” the design of a “possible” West Thames pedestrian bridge).
Of note, a traffic light at West Thames and South End was not in the F2014 budget, despite the CB1 requesting the item. Recall, last year, the BPCA did fund for the new traffic lights on Murray Street and North End Avenue, by Goldman Sachs.
“More fencing on the West Thames field” will be budgeted. The fencing by the bike path will likely be extended higher, and more fencing on the west side where holes in the marble now exist might be placed.
Of note, the West Thames grass field was a State DOT botched construction project from the start, back in 2009. The holes for fence posts currently seen in the marble, by the Rector Street bridge stairs, are the wrong size, and that is whey fencing never was installed. Also, the grass field had no draining, requiring two separate placements of costly sod. It was only after BatteryPark.TV informed parks head Tessa Huxley that drainage was required, which was then placed in the Fall of 2012, that the turf can now sustain usage.
Sinkholes are a growing problem throughout the BPC acreage. $500,000 will be set aside for repairs. BP.TV previously reported on this phenomenon.
The Rockefeller Park playground will receive a new play surface and other repairs.
Ms. Dawson announced that a leak in the roof of the Asphalt Green community center has been a problem for several months, and that engineers still have not found the culprit. An additional $1.5 Million is in the F2014 budget to study the problem more. In a previous article, BP.TV explains the scandal behind this expenditure.
The infrastructure of the North Cove Marina will be “studied” for possible repairs. Interestingly, Ms. Dawson also mentioned that new operators of the marina will be explored.
BP.TV has also learned that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) wants to gut the interior of their building, at the corner of Vesey and North End, and add an additional 50,000 square feet of office space. Recall, Brookfield Properties plans to acquire that building.
When the BPCA board voted to approve the resolution supporting the proposed F2014 budget, the only member voting against it was Martha Gallo. Her beef was that the BPCA staff had not received any raises for five years. In fact, at least 18 new employees have been hired by the Mehiel BPCA administration, all receiving salaries on par with Goldman Sachs employees. Moreover, employees existing prior to Mehiel were given 45% raises, such as Anne Fenton. It is unclear what Ms. Gallo was trying to achieve with her pandering.
Of note, Martha Gallo was the Global Head of Compliance for JP Morgan when all of the scandals transpired resulting in tens of billions of fines as settlement to government investigation. It is unclear whether Ms. Gallo actually still works at JP Morgan, since she is described by the bank as being “on sabbatical”.