Largo CIP Discussion Dry as Dust, but Shows Some Revealing Points
By Leo Coughlin
LARGO - Whatever the problems in the current financial budgetary crunch, Largo - like all municipalities - will be spending money in the future and that is what Tuesday's City Commission work session was all about.
In large part, the discussion on the Capital Improvement Program was technical and dry as dust, anything but exciting, so it is a tribute to well-meaning elected members of the commission to concentrate on the figures and planning put together by the staff.
That work, even in a middling size city like Largo, is of great scope and the technocrats - Amy Davis, Henry Schubert, Leland Dicus, Carol Sticklin, Irvin Kety, Brian Usher to name some key figures - had their ducks in a row and had answers for commission members, struggling to understand future spending plans.
The capital improvements on the planning boards run from next year to 2014 and total about $150 million. None of it is graven in stone; none spent yet, it will take year-by-year appropriations to do that.
But there were interesting highlights.
For example, updating the Highland Avenue Recreation plant will proceed in 2011 with $18 million scheduled to be borrowed.
And, speaking of borrowing, a whopping $68 million will be borrowed, according to Davis, who directs management and budget, for wastewater projects.
The project to elevate Highland Avenue itself into something resembling the Champs Elysee has been pushed out to 2012. One factor in the delay is completing the negotiations transferring the road from the county to the city.
One startling bit of information came from Harold Schomaker, director of Information Technology, which covers all the computer systems, etc. That is that the city keeps in electronic storage 1.2 terabytes of information. In other words, all information, records, data, messages, paperwork is saved.
The Library of Congress, which probably is the most vast record keeping entity on earth, has 10 terabytes in storage. A terabyte is something like 1 trillion bytes.
One big savings, it turns out, came in the Police Department where the county has taken the expense of dispatch. The savings represents something like $600,000.
One fire station is going to be rebuilt, station 39, at a cost of $3 million. According to Norton Craig, city manager, two stations are being closed.
Police and Public Works attracted no questions at all. As might be expected Recreation, Parks and Arts got some queries with the "entertainment versus essential services" question unspoken but in mind.
In other news, Police Chief Lester Aradi reported that his department was reviewed by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and gave the Largo department high grades.
Aradi said that the inspection discovered "no areas of concern" and was "highly complimentary of all the personnel in our agency."
In turn, through an email to the city manager and the department, Aradi praised his people saying, "In these very tough times it is a credit to all of you for rising above the strain that is put upon you and delivering such tremendous service to our community."
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