Officials seek withdrawl of critical State Center study
State officials pushed back Friday against a critical study of the $1 billion-plus State Center project for midtown Baltimore, demanding that the Maryland Public Policy Institute "withdraw your recently issued report." Read the whole thing here.
One of their main arguments is that MPPI failed to add up the project's benefits in their study. This is a common response when somebody questions a public project. The development will generate $81 million in taxes, ground rents and parking fees! It'll be a "world class transit-oriented development." It'll create "thousands of jobs."
As if somehow that trumps all questions about the project's cost to taxpayers. The rents the state has agreed to pay seem substantially above the going rate. The developers want the city to approve an expensive tax-increment financing deal. The Department of Legislative Services, the General Assembly's nonpartisan research wing, found that the project "is not in the best interests of the state" and that the projected property-tax assessments appear "unrealistically high."
Perhaps the most troubling aspect is that the project did not result from a competitive bidding process. How does the state know it's the best deal when there was no request for bidding proposals? What matters isn't that the project has benefits. What matters is what taxpayers are paying for them.