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How Should City Spend $1 Million Windfall?

The city council is discussing ideas next week.

How do you want New Port Richey to spend an extra $1 million it now has available for its general fund?

City leaders recently authorized the transfer of a pot of money from the water and sewer utility fund to the general fund, which pays for general city services. The pot of transferred money totals $1.08 million.

Now, city council members are planning to talk about how to spend the money when they meet for a workshop on Tuesday, April 23.

They’ll also be getting an update on the city’s financial outlook. Last year, an audit projected the city’s deficit would reach $18 million over five years.

The projection hovered over the budget process, and city leaders took action to try to right the ship. Among those were decisions to raise New Port Richey’s stormwater and streetlight fees, increase the millage rate and refinance the debt.

Now, the city’s deficit is projected to only reach $4 to $5 million in the five years spanning forward from Oct. 1, 2012. 

However, the city still faces challenges in the form of high police and fire pension costs, declining property values, rising healthcare costs and more costs. 

The city is also awaiting a final audit for this year, which is expected to arrive by July 1.

Staff are asking whether city council wants to decide how to spend the $1.08 million in utility transfer money now or wait until it gets a better overlook of the city’s financial condition.

Deputy Mayor Bill Phillips has some ideas on how the money could be used. Here’s a glimpse at a few his suggestions: 

  • $650,000 for city reserves.  The city razed condemned trailers at the troubled Walden Pond Mobile Home Park last year and cleaned up afterward, and it pledged taxpayer money to do so, The owners of Walden Pond now owe the city more than $143,000, a price tag that includes the clean up and other costs, like fines for unpaid water bills. The city also had to settle recently in a lawsuit about a zoning issue that that will ultimately cost taxpayers $362,500.
  • $100, 000 to fund a community policing program
  • $50,000 to stabilize the Hacienda Hotel
  • $50,000 for streamlining the CRA and updating legal language
  • $37, 000 for legal fees to update the city land use code and upgrade development department computers.
  • $40,000 for library computer and service upgrades

How would you spend the money? Share your ideas by commenting below!

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Donna Scott April 21, 2013 at 04:50 AM
im for spending on the Hacienda Hotel, if city owned and managed could bring income to the city. using the park and cavalier square for more family events , promote events at the library .... use what you have to bring people down town. cavalier square is unused a lot... even on fresh fridays it sits empty .. i work across the street from it, i see a lot of photo shots and a few teens just hanging out... its beautiful
Tom S April 21, 2013 at 03:12 PM
I believe this should be focused more on the state/county level. the city can provide yes, but resource wise- it could be very draining. I can agree with communicating with existing nonprofits http://www.pascohomelesscoalition.org/ Having them work for the city has been done before in other cities. Have also focused on employing the homeless/those with criminal records; hired as maintenance for they can clean up streets/debris/etc generally making the city look more appealing. The citizens may have to pick up the burden on paying a higher tax though to employ more individuals.Although if more positions are made, means more people paying city taxes creating more funds overall gradually.
Susanne Stankiewicz April 21, 2013 at 04:40 PM
Make the downtown nicer. Help local business. Keep it local. There should be more actual businesses and not lawyers or CPA's occupying the real estate downtown. Less office space and more retail.
Marilynn deChant April 22, 2013 at 01:31 PM
They should rehire every person they let go last year due to the "dire" financial situation the city was supposedly facing. I'll never forget the young woman in Billings & Collections pleading for council to reconsider letting her go. It was terrible. And how it is, really, to have one year when the sky is falling to "oh look, we found money!" Citizens don't like being jerked around with all the drama.
Hugh April 23, 2013 at 04:20 PM
I read this article today and the similarities with what New Port Richey is trying to accomplish are striking: http://tbo.com/pinellas-county/st-pete-aims-to-improve-th-street-south-b82481011z1

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