JPA discusses Arena project funding

The Joint Public Agency for the Haymarket Arena met for the third time on Friday to discuss and vote on the budget.

The overall budget presented to board members was exactly what was given to taxpayers; $339 million.

Chairperson Jane Snyder says that's the exact reason they are contesting State Auditor Mike Foley's request to audit the arena budget.

Legally, city financial experts say Foley's office has no standing to audit the arena because they aren't taking any state aid or property taxes.  Plus, they say a state audit would cost them money, which would come from a very detailed arena budget.

Snyder says, “we want to be very specific about keeping under budget and staying within our cost.  We still want transparency.  We still think we need an outside audit but we need to have more detail.”

Mayor Chris Beutler also presented a monumental proposal to the project.  He says there should be o project labor agreements, or PLAs, for the construction of the arena.  In other words, all the work won't just be done by unions.

The only exception would be in the event the agency's position jeopardizes federal funding for the project.

Mayor Beutler says this is a compromise for union workers, but business manager for the international brotherhood of electrical workers, Clint Burge, says not really.

Burge says no one was pushing for a union but PLA's do do a lot of good for the community. He says they keep work local and there's value to the worker, the customer and the city.

Burge says they are ready to come up with a bid for the Haymarket arena and without PLA's they will now just hope their bid is low enough to be offered the job.

The JPA will discuss the possible audit again next week.