City takes time to answer paper’s questions
In your editorial of Aug. 22, you asked 10 questions concerning city matters and asked for a reply. The purpose of this letter to address those questions.
— The Redevelopment Agency borrowed $5 million from the general fund. What was the money spent for? — RDA dollars were spent on acquisitions of property, relocation of existing businesses, legal fees, administrative costs and construction costs that were higher than originally estimated. Final numbers are being worked on by the new director of finance and redevelopment manager and are expected to be available within 30-45 days.
— When will it be repaid? — As I announced at the City Council meeting on Aug. 19, staff will be bringing a repayment plan to the City Council as part of the proposed municipal budget for this year. Our goal is to see that the RDA pays back the city all funds owed and advanced to the RDA with a reasonable interest. We will propose that repayment begin no later than the 2004-05 fiscal year.
n Where will the money come from to repay the $5 million? — Payment will come from tax increment and currently restricted TOT that are not needed to pay debt service and administrative costs in the future. Financial projections indicate that funds will be available for repayment in the 2004-05 fiscal year.
— Is it accurate to describe the Redevelopment Agency as being broke? Why or why not? — No. The Redevelopment Agency is not broke, but it is not in a position at this time to incur new debt obligations. In order to collect tax increment dollars, the Redevelopment Agency must have debt.
— How can we afford to build a multimillion dollar project like the convention center when the agency is essentially broke? — Financing for the convention center has not yet been decided or determined nor has the role the city/agency will play in this process. The city/RDA is not in a financial position at the present time to make any dollar commitments to this project. This office and the city’s financial adviser have so advised the City Council.
— Does every council member read the entire agenda packet before the meeting? — My experience with the existing City Council members and the two most recent members is that they do read their agenda packets and ask many questions of staff before coming to the council meeting. These questions are sometimes answered in advance of the meeting or they are asked in public. I also meet with certain council members on a weekly or biweekly basis to go over and discuss city business issues.
— Did Dave Childs work as a consultant for the city after leaving as city manger? Did he and his wife receive paid health benefits while a consultant? Why was he working part time while there was in interim city manager? (Paraphrased) — I know that Mr. Childs served as a consultant to the city for some period of time after he left city employment. This arrangement is not unusual for someone with his municipal experience.
— Why did the City Council hire the city attorney? (paraphrased) — I do not know the process used by the City Council to hire the existing city attorney. It occurred 5.5 years ago. She now has 5.5 years municipal law experience.
— Why wasn’t it considered a conflict of interest to have the former redevelopment manager’s husband working in redevelopment? — I do not know the history of this issue. Neither the former redevelopment manager nor her husband currently work for the city. I understand that the former redevelopment manager did not supervise the work of her husband while she was an employee of the city. Her husband was a consultant I am told. I am advised that the working relationship had met legal scrutiny.
— Why did the City Council put up with incomprehensible budgets year after year? — When I was hired in late 2002, the then sitting City Council told me they wanted city budgets to be made user friendly and clear to them and the public. They approved my reorganization request of finance and authorized hiring of a director of finance. He has been on the job for four months and is diligently working on city financial statement and budget matters. We are working to make the budget document and presentation as clear as possible this year. The City Council currently receives monthly updates on city revenue and expenditure matters.
Thank you for the opportunity to reply.–
Dave Jinkens is city manager of South Lake Tahoe.