Let's Do the Math

RECEIVED Tue., April 19, 2005

Letter to the editor,
    The Chronicle endorsed Council Member Dunkerley for her “financial officer's instincts” and “hypercareful approach” [“Endorsements,” April 15]. Yet, how do you explain her enthusiastic support of $60 million in tax subsidies to Endeavor Real Estate and Simon Property Group for the Domain shopping center near the Arboretum? Let's do the math.
    Dunkerley and the Austin City Council voted to give these developers $25 million in net present value tied to May 2003 with a steep 7.5% annual discount rate. The value grows to $28.9 million next month, and they just broke ground. On construction completion in Spring 2007, the deal climbs to $33.4 million.
    Over the subsequent 20 years, until mid-2027, the combination of high retail sales per square foot and deeply discounted sales tax and property tax rebates to Endeavor/Simon could easily top $60 million – a sickening misuse of public funds approved by Mayor Wynn and council members Dunkerley, Alvarez, Thomas, and Goodman.
    Direct quote from Dunkerley on May 8, 2003, during the council discussion on the Domain: “I'm a finance person, I've run city finances in two cities for 17 years, I'll do those projects every day of the week.” Massive subsidies for median wages of $8.65/hour, no health insurance requirement – all while kicking local retailers in the stomach until 2027? No thanks.
    Here's a lucky break for Ms. Dunkerley – my lawsuit, settled in June 2004, stripped away the subsidy guarantees for the Domain, and now the city can just walk away from this misrepresented project with no recourse. That's the question she should answer. Will she vote to walk?
Brian Rodgers
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