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Not to harsh your PawSox buzz, but…

BY Brad Kane

9/3/2018

Among the household roles I've fallen into after 10 years of marriage to my wife Sarah is that of money manager. I pay the bills, handle the incoming payments and set the budget. When our family wants to spend outside the budget – a more elaborate vacation, an impromptu trip to the toy store – I make the call.

This job sucks. I end up having to say no about half the time and end up feeling like the bad guy crushing all my kids hopes and dreams. While they are disappointed and only think about what they are losing out on, I have to remember we use that money for: the mortgage, groceries, utilities, long-term savings, fixing the roof, keeping them clothed.

When Worcester announced on Aug. 17 the Pawtucket Red Sox had signed a deal to move to a new stadium in the Canal District, my first question was very similar to one I ask my wife when we consider going outside the household budget, “How much are we going to have to pay?” Stadium financing deals across the country are notorious for not working out in favor of municipalities, and I figured Worcester would have to stake significantly more than the $38 million Rhode Island and Pawtucket were offering. Turns out, Worcester is on the hook for about double.

Every December when Worcester City Council goes to adopt the next year's property tax rate, businesses across the city are up in arms. They decry the annual raises and the rising difference between the commercial and residential tax rates. Timothy Murray – president and CEO of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, who has been very supportive of the PawSox deal and has a column on page 21 – wrote a letter to the council in May saying taxes were partially responsible for Worcester losing three manufacturing companies and nearly 500 jobs.

This is where my thoughts drifted during the excitement following the PawSox announcement: What is the tax rate going to do now? City Manager Edward Augustus is confident the stadium development will pay for itself; economists aren't so sure. The nine independent economists who reviewed the financing details for WBJ all said it wouldn't.

Really, this is beside the point. Much like after my kids go on a toy run, that money is spent. Once the city approves the deal, there's no turning back. Now, it's about getting the most out of our purchase.

- Brad Kane, editor