Is building a new City Hall really the right thing to do given the uncertain economic future?
· First, it’s important to clarify that the city commission has NOT voted to build a new city hall.
· We’ve only voted to complete the design work.
So why did we vote to finish the design work?
2 reasons –
· First, many folks in Washington tell us that stimulus grant funding may be coming down the pike for infrastructure projects.
· However, you must have “shovel ready” projects to apply for these types of things – they want to stimulate the economy now, not 3-5 years from now.
· We can apply for stimulus grants for many types of infrastructure & use the savings towards this project.
· We’ve also worked with construction experts that tell us costs are going down & being prepared to take advantage of those cost savings are prudent.
· The bottom line – we are setting ourselves up for success!
· Second – we’ve had two years of public input sessions on City Hall. Every step of the way we’ve included resident input in the design, size, and function of the building. Not completing the design package is the epitome of wasteful spending.
Do you need a property tax increase in order to build it?
· The simple answer is – NO!
· The funding that will be used for this project is the Penny for Pinellas sales tax. You might remember that this was put in place to help keep your property taxes low.
· The Penny is paid for by residents and visitors from around the county. As a matter of fact, 1/3rd of this sales tax is paid for by tourists. So, when the city utilizes this fund, you are getting a real deal!
Why do we need it?
· Our employees!
· The Municipal Services Building was 63 years old & riddled with mold.
· The current City Hall frontage has been supported by large metal pole for 2 years because of its age and condition.
· Did you know that we are one of the largest employers in Dunedin with roughly 375 people on staff?
· Almost 25 percent of our workforce is displaced across the city. Some working in existing city spaces that could be rented- that means we are losing rental income of roughly $15k per year.
· Others are working in leased space costing the city almost $200k a year, coming straight from you property taxes.
· Providing essential services is the core principal of a government and doing it in an efficient manner for our residents is how we keep your taxes down.
Can we afford it?
· To be completely honest – We don’t know yet.
· We have a lot of projects we need to complete in the next 10 year round of Penny for Pinellas.
· I spent many years working professionally as an Economic Forecaster and Planner. Here’s what I know – it’s important to listen to the professionals.
· We’ll be meeting quarterly to analyze the trends on this revenue source and we will not move forward until we are sure that we are in a fiscal position to do so.
· These are the facts! Political rhetoric aren’t facts.
· And I’d urge you – don’t take my word for it. Call my colleagues on the Commission. Talk to them regarding what they voted for and what their expectations are.