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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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NPR Guy April 20, 2013 at 11:39 AM
Buy all of the motels between Main St. and the Cotee River, take a wrecking ball to them and let the Oxy addicts and prostitutes find someplace else to stink up.
Kat April 20, 2013 at 12:00 PM
Some of this money should be used to provide shelter and food for the many homeless people that live on our streets. Many of these people had homes and jobs before falling on hard times and this can happen to any one of us. Let's pay it forward!!!
TBL35 April 20, 2013 at 01:55 PM
Hire some lawyers, find a way to seize these investment group owned abandoned houses that they don't maintain & tear 'em down or sell them. There are several houses on my street with broken windows/doors, half torn off roof tarps, etc. It's an eye sore and my property value is low enough already without that crap.
Sandra Dornick April 20, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Taxpayers money spent on private property i.e., Walden Pond trailer park, is still a thorn in my side. You moved forward to clean it up without thought how you were going to recoup the money. Do you really think the owners / slumlords are ever going to cough up the money for repayment? It was in disrepair for years and years, yet it was never condemned prior to this action. So all that money that could have gone toward services that all NPR citizens could benefit from went to one trailer park. Sell the Hacienda, bank the money and get out of the real estate business. Secure more police to clean up the pimps, prostitutes and druggies in this county. Buy tents and cots for their new residence. I would rather that you spent a fraction of the $200K towards that project rather than the trailer park. This Sheriff has a tough job with all the criminals in this county...help them to help you.
Hugh April 20, 2013 at 02:52 PM
(Stands on his chair and starts clapping)
Hugh April 20, 2013 at 02:59 PM
Or the city can work with existing non-profits to figure out how we can use their infrastructure to address this problem. As it stands, the Southgate Shopping center is basically a homeless shelter because there is nowhere else to go.
Hugh April 20, 2013 at 03:00 PM
I like the "one coat of paint at a time" attitude of the people leaving comments.
Michael Malterer April 20, 2013 at 03:15 PM
Would it not be prudent to wait until after the audit before deciding how to spend this money?
Elly McCarthy April 20, 2013 at 03:35 PM
I would love to see the "paint up fix up" grants back again!
Nancy MacDonald April 20, 2013 at 04:08 PM
I agree with this approach. That is how I make my own decisions. After tax time and a look at how much money I will have going forward for the next twelve months, then I make decisions about to allocate/reallocate my budget priorities. I keep a list of potential household repairs, vacation preferences, medical etc. Let's treat my community expenditures in this thoughtful way. Thanks for listening. Not even going to get into the wish list until later. I will go to hear the discussion this coming Tuesday night.
Captain Mike April 20, 2013 at 06:23 PM
Have the council brainstorm with with the visionararies of Dunnedan. Get some ideas from them on how they revitilized the downtown area and spend the windfall for that.
Captain Mike April 20, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Give a building credit to new businesses for handicapping bathrooms in leased buildings or upgrading existing systems. Landlords will not pay for it.
Captain Mike April 20, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Pressure wash the sidewalks downtown. There filthy.
Captain Mike April 20, 2013 at 06:29 PM
Reconstruct parking for angle parking.
Captain Mike April 20, 2013 at 06:30 PM
Brick downtown streets
Captain Mike April 20, 2013 at 06:31 PM
Get rid of the trees downtown. No one can see the businesses behind them
Captain Mike April 20, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Have a police officer or two walk the street downtown from 10pm to 3am
Eric Stewart April 20, 2013 at 07:17 PM
The city should put the money into a worker owned incubator fund. Help educate the community on how to form their own businesses and create community wealth. In New Jersey following hurricane sandy they are redeveloping the towns by setting up worker owned co-ops to employ people. We should do that locally and employ people to do work and its their business, if they fail they lose their job so their is and incentive to succeed. This would raise our local economy and grow our tax base http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/occupy-sandy-funds-growth-worker-owned-cooperatives-hurricane-sandy
Deborah Denise Soellinger April 20, 2013 at 08:16 PM
Repair some of the secondary roads that are in incredibly poor shape.
TBL35 April 20, 2013 at 08:50 PM
Yes! There are quite a few that are terrible.
moon lake pop April 20, 2013 at 08:57 PM
sidewalks down 1 side of moonlake or some bus routs down moonlake
Donna Scott April 21, 2013 at 04:30 AM
Have them work for the city to renew the Hacienda Hotel, give a man a fish.... teach a man to fish... so it goes
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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