Auction of landing slots could at least help pay for infrastructure

Articles from the New York Sun indicate that there’s serious interest in auctioning landing slots at the New York area airports. Mayor Bloomberg and the Bush Administration are in favor, Port Authority less enthused. No mention of what they’d be worth, but a US DOT official said

[T]he whole point of the auctions was to generate the proceeds necessary to build out an upgraded infrastructure at participating airports.

which implies that they’re not expecting to even cover the full cost of existing infrastructure, let alone the rent (that is, what the site and the right to operate an airport would be worth if the airport didn’t exist). The earlier article notes that it would incentivize carriers to operate larger aircraft, presumably providing more capacity.

Price of land in NY/NJ area

A new report from the New York Federal Reserve Bank looks at land price patterns around their metropolis (specifically, New York City less Richmond, plus ten New Jersey counties). Like Barker’s work noted here last year, they used sales of vacant land to indicate the value of land in general. But while Barker’s purpose was to estimate total land value and land rent, the New Yorkers’ objective is to see how land prices relate to parcel location and other characteristics, and describe trends over the 1999-2006 period.

Defining the center of New York as the Empire State Building, of course they found that the distance thereto is inversely proportional to land value. They observed a very sharp increase in average prices, from $46.65 in 1999 to $366.08 in 2006, with the increase especially pronounced in land intended for residential use.   Of course this rate of increase cannot be sustained, as a subsequent analysis might document.

The paper notes that even vacant land may be “improved,” for instance by having been graded and having utilities.  Improved lots of course are more valuable than otherwise identical lots.  So do Georgists want to tax the improved value or the “raw” value?   I think it was William Vickerey who pointed that this really isn’t a big problem. Either could be used as a base, as long as assessment practice is consistent.

Thanks to Richard Biddle and CityEconomist