TREASURE ISLAND – Plans to take a step forward with the proposed Treasure Island downtown redevelopment plan have been delayed following a special April 23 workshop meeting of the Treasure Island city commission.
In a previous commission workshop, City Manager Reid Silverboard asked for roughly $50,000 to finalize a plan for the downtown redevelopment to kick-start the process, which had been stalled for some months. Silverboard explained in the special meeting in great detail why the plans had to be tweaked, and why it would cost five figures.
Since the city spent $100,000 to formalize a plan, the county changed codes for what is allowed on a redevelopment plan on the scale of what Treasure Island was considering.
To make sure the plan was in compliance with county regulations, the plan needed to go back to engineers, otherwise the plan would die on the vine.
But, after consulting with engineers and the firm who came up with the original plan, Silverboard noted the cost would be a bit less than $50,000, closer to $33,000.
But this news didn’t exactly comfort two commissioners who had previously voiced strong concerns over the plan.
Commissioners Phil Collins and Ed Gayton were not necessarily against the plan, but they have not warmed up to the plan due to what they perceive as a general ambivalence from those who would have the most to gain from such a project: downtown businesses and downtown real estate owners.
Collins noted his frustration. He explained how he held a workshop and informational gathering about the project at a local hotel.
“A rundown downtown needs to be refurbished,” Collins said. “By not having that done negatively impacts both the community and property value. But we are putting the cart before the horse. “Yeah, I want to see it done. But I am not in favor of the city being responsible to spend more money when the people who will profit are doing nothing.”
Gayton too noted he would like to see the project completed. Like Collins, he is frustrated that downtown business owners and real estate owners are, for the most part, not stepping forward.
“How many downtown business owners are here in attendance, one?” Gayton asked. “If we can only get one of the interested parties in here, maybe (the downtown businesses and real estate owners) don’t want it? Why should we go through all of this and spend an additional $33,000 if they don’t want to do it? But I don’t want anyone to get the impression we don’t care about downtown.”
But his main issue is the city currently doesn’t have the money to spend.
In a sometimes emotional testimony, Gayton explained how revenue for the fiscal year is already well below projected figures. Next year after the Amendment 1 property tax cuts are felt, it will be worse Gayton said.
He stated that the city will have to dip into reserve funds and that next year the city is looking at a looming fiscal crisis and will be hard-pressed given current trends to have a balanced budget.
John Burke had spoken earlier noting that the $33,000 would come out to roughly $10 per resident.
Gayton responded, “Sure, $10 doesn’t sound like much. But if we spend the $33,000 now, who do we lay off? Folks, we don’t have an excess fund balance. We are headed for catastrophe.”
“This year is not looking pretty and next year is going to look downright ugly,” Commissioner Bob Minning said.