The City's "General Fund"
According to a City Council Member, the City is anticipating a $9 million deficit in the "General Fund" at 2010 budget time. This means the abandonment of more libraries and recreation centers as well as more reductions in Fire Fighting and Police activities - or a raise in property taxes. There is much official shaking of the head and crocodile tears over this.
Meantime the City is negotiating with a developer to build a second public parking garage next door to the one just opened at the Hyatt Hotel on South Gulfview. The City is expecting to put up $9 million to insure the garage, as well as a restaurant and retail space for the developer can be built. The City is not paying $9 million, only obligating it in case the parking garage goes broke sometime within the next 5 years.
At press time, the majority of the money for this guarantee from the City is slated to come from a $6 million fund which the City set aside in 2004 to buy the site now occupied by the Hyatt, in case that development failed. City records show that $2 million of this amount was "borrowed" from the Insurance Reserves and $2 million from the General Fund.
With the General Fund now in $9 million deficit, it seems to me this is a good time to return the borrowed $2 million to the General Fund, especially as the Parking Fund has more than enough reserves to provide all of the $9 million bet on this new parking garage. Although the Parking Fund is income only from parking revenues it is only Council policy that demands it be spent only on parking facilities.
The bottom line in all this is that the City Council, by not returning the $2 million to the General Fund and the $2 million to the Insurance Reserves, is saying that parking matters more than libraries, recreation centers, employment in the city, police and fire fighting protection. Anyone who disagrees on this stand of the City Council's has until February 18 to make their views known to our City Council because that is the date when they are expected to approve the development agreement, which will remove the $9 million from City coffers for 5 years.
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