To be fair, it's like when you buy a house or a car. All you do is focus on the purchase price. You seldom think about the actual cost the total amount you will pay over time, with interest.
So when this newspaper reported Friday that the public's portion of Sandy's new Real Salt Lake soccer stadium will really be $73.1 million over time, not just the $45 million going toward construction, that shouldn't have come as a surprise.
Still, we wish there was a law requiring public projects to use the full cost, including interest, when they are touting their plans and begging for public approval. Not only would it be more honest (the interest is being paid with real money, after all), it would change the debate.
Proponents of a plan like this will say it doesn't cost taxpayers a thing. Indeed, this plan takes money from people staying at hotels and from a portion of the future taxes generated by the stadium and its surrounding developments. But as the saying goes, lunches never come free. The hotel taxes are tourism taxes that ought to go toward other things. The rest will come from a Sandy redevelopment bond that will deprive the library, water districts and other taxing entities (but not schools) of money from the project for 20 years.
But, fiddledee-dee, apparently we'll think about that tomorrow.
That brings us to another law we wish was on the books. It would require public entities that promise benefits from such projects (Sandy leaders insist the stadium and surrounding developments will lead to economic development) to provide a detailed and comprehensive accounting 10, 20 or more years down the road. They ought to be able to show taxpayers what they've really gotten for their money.