Code red ink

Let’s fast-forward to 2019, when the city of Sacramento’s yearly budget deficit potentially turns bloody.

For starters, that will be when the Measure U sales-tax increase expires. Sacramento will take in approximately $27 million annually over the next six years from this tax to help pay for services that were axed during the recession. As of now, there are no plans, no new monies to cover the added costs of hiring more police and funding more parks and libraries.

That's $27 million of potential red ink.

Also in 2019, the city's yearly contribution to the California Public Employees' Retirement System goes up to $17 million. City leaders are hustling to renegotiate retirement agreements with public employees. Still, add that to the red category.

And, of course, the arena. It's true, there are no new taxes in the pipe to pay for the Sacramento Kings proposed downtown home. Yet. But in 2019, bond payments for the new arena will jump to an estimated $17 million a year. This on top of the $9 million from the general fund already going to the Kings.

That makes a possible $61 million. Code red ink, anyone?

This is why Cosmo Garvin's cover story this week, a definitive cost-benefit analysis of the planned Kings arena (see page 14), matters. And no one else in the local-media world has rolled up his or her sleeves for a straightforward, exhaustive look at the project's fiscal good and bad. And we all know city leadership prefers to crunch numbers behind closed doors.

Yes, I want the arena—if built—to revitalize downtown and be a pie-in-the-sky success. It's crucial to do the math, though.

Because we don't want Sacramento to be the next Detroit.