The Drumbeat of Borrow and Build Goes On
By H. Patrick Wheeler
On Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 the Largo City Commission held their last meeting for the year. The first Largo City Commission meeting for the next year will be Tuesday, January 5th, 2010 at 6:00 p.m.
A brief ceremony was held in honor of the 2009 Class of the Citizen's Academy, which began on September 21st and ended December 7th, 2009. This program gave the 24 participants an overall fingernail sketch of all the facets of the city. During this extended period all the departments extended themselves, to provide knowledge and understanding of the inner workings, of these departments to those citizens who sought knowledge about operation of the City of Largo. Each participant received a Certificate of Completion from Mayor Pat Gerard. They subsequently also received a round of applause and a "well done," and thanks from all of the Commissioners.
Item Ten of the Agenda was Ordinance No 2010-09 - second reading, The Charter requires City Commission approval of any borrowing process- Interesting enough the citizens have a chance to talk, prior to the members of the commissioners. One gentleman in particular, Jeff Mokley, a resident of Largo, in what many would say, " a slow monotone voice" but when un-ciphered had content far beyond the results of what had taken place at the first reading on November 17th, 2009.
That particular meeting had ended with the first reading of Ordinance No. 2010-09 being approved to go forward to borrow the necessary funds from a selected lender of not more than ten million dollars and to have that loan secured by a pledge of Once Cent Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) revenue. That first reading went forward with a vote of five for and two against. The two against were Commissioners Mary Black and Curtis Holmes.
Mokley's words of wisdom suggested that these funds for the construction of the new community center come from Largo Reserves and let Largo keep the money. The intent of the city is to build this recreation center
Once again with the second reading Commissioner Black validated her amazement that the funds for the recreation center was going to borrowed from an outside source and not the Largo reserves, which to her made more sense to keep the money within the community. At the last budget meeting the commissioner first became aware that the staff was not considering utilizing Largo funds. She is not against the project, just against the source of the funds. This vote is to allow the staff to go out and find a lender.
It was at this juncture that City Attorney Alan Zimmet clarified that even though if only one or twelve banks gave a rate, the acceptance of these rates must be voted on to be final. Therefore, this vote is to allow the staff to find an institution that will be willing to lend the funds and at what rate nothing more nothing less. The vote was taken and was passed with five for the amendment and two against. The two against were Commissioners Black and Holmes.
In the dance of the glass balls item #11 Mayor Gerard brought a question forward. She wondered out loud to Assistant Manager Henry Schubert how you could start a project with no money. He enthusiastically stated that they had enough money in the reserve and he expected the getting of money to go forward so this was not a consideration of delay. It sounded as if it was in the "bag" already.
Commissioner Black made a motion to postpone the commencement of starting the building till a final decision is made on getting the money. Commissioner Holmes seconded the motion. The city does not expect to finalize all the paperwork until the first week in March 2010. This motion was defeated by a vote of five against two for. Commissioners Black and Holmes voted for the postponement.
In sum, what seems like a majority desire to borrow the funds for the new community center is going forward.
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