Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jumbo Shrimp

I wanted to share some thoughts about our City Council Strategy & Goal Setting session that was held today. I found our facilitator, Dr. Lee, to be very engaging and he set the tone for an engaging and productive meeting. I was pleased that each council member had the opportunity to share their goals one-on-one before today's meeting. As a result of these meetings Dr. Lee had the opportunity to formulate 7 Strategy Statements for us to discuss and finalize.

We will now take time at our next Committee of the Whole to set a time-line for applying our goals to each Strategy. Dr. Lee facilitated some discussion about our new strategies being applied to all agenda items in the future. If this suggestion were to be used, staff will be required to analyze all potential agenda items and much like their recommendations, give commentary as to how the item relates to our council strategies. ( A move in the right direction)

Interactive Government, this is where the Jumbo Shrimp comes in. I would like to see our strategy statements posted to the city website with an additional weblink for each that explains the details of that strategy, specific goals and a timeline for action. I also asked that the goals have an interactive component that staff would update accomplishments, actions taken and give dates for discussion of further action toward accomplishing each goal.

This concept would give citizens complete access to our council process and make our strategies and goals a living, breathing entity instead of a list that council refers back to at the end of our term to see if we hit our mark. We could also have a monthly Goals Check at the first meeting of every month. This would facilitate meaningful and purposed discussion between council members on a regular basis.

Too often we continue making decisions based on outdated information and we need to move toward a more accountable and transparent process. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Goals

Council will be working one on one with our goals and strategy consultant this week. Next week we will have our goal setting workshop on the 30th.

I have forwarded the following ideas for discussion at my Friday meeting. Each goal is multi-dimensional and creates opportunities in many areas to further our city's growth and development.

My personal goals

1.Establish an Education Funding Committee to evaluate scholarships through Pensacola Promise that will be used as an economic development tool. (10 minute Power Point Presentation on Pensacola Promise.)

2 .Improve Quality of Life through neighborhood partnerships and our existing parks system also focusing on pedestrian/bicycle connectivity throughout the city.

3. Create opportunities and locations for Mixed Income/Mixed-Use housing in our Urban Core.

4. Create a multi-use plan for the Port of Pensacola and transition to a Renewable Port Focused Business Plan

5. Create opportunities to internally consolidate, outsource and re-task City departments and staff for better efficiency and improved communication with our citizens while furthering our cost saving efforts.

I will also suggest that we have a goals check-up at the 1st meeting of every month where we talk about our efforts and accomplishments on goals and allow input from the public. This will allow for council to have meaningful discussion with each other on regular basis and keep our goals in the forefront.

Please forward me your thoughts on the 5 areas I have identified for discussion.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Proposed Interlocal kills Pensacola's Promise

After endless hours of effort by Promise supporters,UWF staff, PJC staff and many community members, on Monday, City staff has proposed the elimination of the primary & ongoing funding source of Pensacola's Promise. The proposed interlocal agreement will back door the funding source and reallocate the funds, that would be available in 2013, to a revision of the ECUA wastewater plant relocation agreement. The current interlocal agreement is between the CRA and ECUA not the City.

In 2007, the CRA entered into an agreement with ECUA to provide $19.5 million over a number of years to fund the portion of the wastewater treatment plant within the CRA. In his memo to Council, then City Manager Tom Bonfield expressly stated that under the agreement the City had no obligation to pay any amounts toward this agreement. The 2007 agreement stated that if CRA TIF funds were insufficient to cover the annual ECUA obligation (AFTER PAYMENT OF THE MARITIME PARK BONDS) then the amount due in that year would merely roll over to a year that additional TIF funds were available. Due to Amendment 1 passing subsequent to the ECUA agreement, TIF revenues in the CRA were dramatically reduced and the potential exists that TIF revenues would not cover both the CMPA bonds and the ECUA agreement.

Staff is presenting in Monday's Finance committee meeting a new interlocal agreement with ECUA. The new agreement with ECUA expressly states:
  • the effect of this agreement is intended to fully release the CRA and any
    claim upon the Tax Increment Revenues Under Chapter 163, Florida Statutes from any
    obligation to make payments to the ECUA
  • the intent of the parties is to effect a novation and full replacement of the
    City in the place of the CRA on all obligations that CRA may have to ECUA under the 2007 Agreement

Staff proposes using the funds currently appropriated to repay a debt issue of the City that is paid off in 2013 to cover any TIF shortfalls in the CRA agreement with ECUA.

First, why should the City assume an obligation to ECUA for funds legally deferrable under the current CRA interlocal agreement?

Second, the debt relief that the staff proposes be used to pay the CRA's obligation are the same funds necessary and identified to fund Pensacola's Promise.

On Monday, I will be asking that the proposed ECUA interlocal agreements be tabled or returned to staff pending the Councils goal setting session later this month. The Pensacola Promise deserves a chance to be presented formally to Council before being buried with hasty decisions.

There is no rush on the ECUA agreements. Under the current agreement, they are secondary to the CMPA position for TIF revenues and no payments are due for over a year at best.

I hope that the potential of guaranteeing every child in Pensacola a chance to go to college can be given an opportunity before we commit to giving our citizen's money away to another governmental entity that is neither required under existing agreements nor really needed as news articles report the project is under budget.

During our CMP Bond workshop I already expressed my concerns based on historical data for CRA growth that the CRA revenue projections are too low and create a problem. Mr. Barker assumes a lower than normal growth rate for a conservative estimate thus creating a shortage in funding.