Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday April 13, 2014 Nibbling at the Edges - Funding the Vision

This week St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman set out the results of his first 100 days in office and the Vision that he will pursue for the City. You can read some of my observations at Kriseman First 100 Days - 5 Questions

The trust of my 5 questions in the Post is where the money to make the Vision appear will come from?

The Kriseman administration would have us believe that they will simply shift some funds around and all will be well. The implication may even be that most of the shifting will come from comparable programs and so it would be kind of a tit for tat from the funding perspective.

However in my Post Casual Conversation With Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, The Deputy Mayor said this: "A lot of the shift that we are exploring and will probably make has to do with boxes we have been able to check. As we continue to evolve as a City, there will be things and infrastructure that require significant investment at one point, we do that, we build that house, and then we are able to move on. Ideally we won't have 'losers,' necessarily. We will be able to shift our priorities to reflect those things we have not been able to attend to before."

The problem here is the City's infrastructure. Some of those "houses" the Deputy Mayor mentions are in a pretty poor state of repair. Drive around and note the streets. Go to a park look at the landscaping. The water system and the sanitary sewer and storm water systems are all in need of serious work.

Here's the point. If the Kriseman administration takes funding from the social support programs the arts, the homeless, or anything that affects Beach Drive or the Chamber they will scream like a cat dropped in hot water and the media will be all over it.

On the other hand if the administration through the Budget process starts taking funding from IT, Public Works which includes Storm Water, Pavement and Traffic Operations, Sanitation, Water Resources,  and  Leisure Services which includes Golf Courses, Libraries, Parks and Recreation  and maybe a small nibble from Police and Fire those directors have no megaphone, no safe public stage to set forth the real impact of any "shift" they will just do what you do when you have fewer resources, they will do less.

The whole budget process needs to be very transparent, and the actual impacts of these moves need to be disclosed and not sugar coated so both the public and City Council can review them and make serious recommendations.

The Vision is commendable and the Goals for South St. Pete are absolutely on target, but care must be taken to not quietly strip out needed resources and end up leaving all of St. Pete worse off than when the Vision effort began.

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