Yesterday, we made a post about some discrepencies in how the funding for the Barthelmas Park expansion was being communicated and how the funding was actually going to work.
Last month, the City announced that it would be purchasing 20 acres to expand Barthelmas Park. In the meantime, the City has also announced that it would be laying off part time fire fighters, not filling a full time fire fighter position to be vacated in June, and unfunding 2 unfilled positions in the police department. The timeing of these 2 announcements caused many to ask, “Why buy the park when the city is going through financial difficulties?”
We were told by multiple City officials that an opportunity to expand an existing park was rare, and that the city would “pay very little” for the expansion, as it was being supported by County and State grants. We later learned that the city would pay $25k or $75k for the park, depending on whether the State grant was awarded or not. Then we found out that the County award would not be paid out at once, but over five years. This would increase the city’s 2019 burden for the park to $125k or $255k, depending on State grant approval. $125 – $255k doesn’t seem to be “very little”, especially, when compared to the cost of the eliminated safety positions.
Finally, we were eventually told that the funding would come out of the 206 Fund, which is a $1-1.2 million per year fund that’s populated by a %0.4 income tax. To date, we haven’t heard that the purchase of Barthelmas Park would cause a significant reduction in that fund currently slated to be used for roads and Ted Lewis Park improvements. Funds in the 206 fund could not be used to fund safety forces.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll discover if the City will be awarded the $150k grant from the State to help fund the purchase. Also, we hope to discover from which budget the purchase will be made from, and whether other cuts will have to be made to facilitate the park expansion purchase.
Here is the documentation that supports the claims in this post. Notice the sections that detail how the money will be distributed over 5 years, not at one time.