An independent commission created by Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano is criticizing the school system’s plans for a public-private partnership to spend up to $1 billion on the initial phase of rebuilding the district’s aging schools, The Journal News/lohud.com reports today.
The panel, headed by former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, said at a City Hall briefing yesterday that the school district’s consultants used flawed financial assessments in their March endorsement of a public-private partnership. That includes “untested” projections about inflation and operating costs, and questionable predictions about how the private partners’ expenses would translate into revenue for the city.
“The numbers just don’t add up,” said Brodsky, who maintained traditional borrowing methods would be more cost-effective.
In a public-private partnership, also known as a P3, investors and private companies would contract to build or renovate and then operate city-owned schools for a period of time. It would receive a set monthly fee, which would be paid in some combination of city and state funds.
The school district’s consultants have said a P3 could save city taxpayers $63.1 million over the 35-year lifespan of the project.
The commission’s dim view of those findings dealt a blow to the district’s hopes of using a P3 to fund much-needed repairs at the city’s 40 schools. The project can advance only if the city and state Legislature agree to support it long term.
Mayor Mike Spano said he was not giving up on a P3 but wanted the Board of Education to re-examine its plan before he considered backing it.
The district said yesterday that it planned to “continue this important dialogue” by examining the concerns raised in the commission’s report.