Bazan: Trust but verify when it comes to Astrodome boondoggle financial assertions

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The following is a guest post from Tom Bazan. Feel free to submit topical posts/essays for our consideration to [email protected]. As with our usual blog posts, the views expressed are those of the author.


by Tom Bazan

Regarding the recent assertions by self-interested officials that the new Astrodome may break even — I have not seen any projections yet, but it would seem that we have two bureaucracies who are vying for tourist and convention revenue. It is my opinion that those who oversee these projects are addicted to the euphoria of spending vast amounts of taxpayer funds.

Image courtesy flickr user Chadada via Creative Commons license
Image courtesy flickr user Chadada via Creative Commons license

You have the city bureaucrats, using the TIRZ’s to float bonds to overbuild facilities downtown, expecting a tsunami of conventions, and to a lesser extent, the interests behind the county venues.

The assumptions generally are that revenues will grow, attendances will break records each year, and that there never will be a cloudy day.

That is not the case in real life. Take for example the Convention Center Hotel. Just after the groundbreaking, America experienced the 9/11 terrorist attack, yet the decision makers decided to complete the construction. The Convention Center Hotel has yet to come close to matching the numbers generated in the 2000 feasibility study that was used to sell the bonds.

Ever notice that the big spending bureaucrats never risk their personal wealth; nevertheless, the city bureaucrats decided to enable another taxpayer-subsidized hotel to be built.

There seems to be little concern that world events will affect the central planners’ vision of Utopia in Houston. County Judge Emmett is right that a break-even number in a speculative forecast is not enough.

We need a credible second opinion on anything that involves such an enormous taxpayer investment. There is an old adage “Trust but verify.”

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Tom Bazan has a degree in real-estate valuation, has been a TREC licensed broker in Texas for over two decades, and has previously been licensed in Alaska, California, and Michigan. He is a property tax arbitrator, a real estate instructor, and is AQB-certified to teach appraisers the USPAP. He is one of a select group of experienced commercial real-estate appraisers who has been hired often by the City of Houston to appraise real property for the City of Houston as well as the Houston Airport system.