Commission outlines goals for Gainesville in coming year

Published: Saturday, January 25, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 24, 2003 at 11:10 p.m.
Resurfacing roads, improving its image to businesses and constructing a new soccer park all made the Gainesville City Commission's annual wish list Friday for projects it might pursue in the upcoming year.
But commissioners acknowledged at their annual goal-setting session at Ironwood Golf Course that all of the goals can't be paid for with a $74 million budget.
"We really don't have the tax base to do a lot of things," said Commissioner Chuck Chestnut, who pushed for more incentives for businesses wanting to locate in east Gainesville.
The commission is expected to prioritize and decide which goals they'll pursue at a special meeting in about a month.
Commissioner Ed Braddy said one of his top priorities is resurfacing a grid of partially paved roads that laces through the city, particularly east of 13th Street.
Some commissioners also said they wanted to take another look at the city boards like the Development Review Board, which recently approved the high-rise Midtown development project with only three members present.
Others suggested goals including better coordination between city and county governments, more protection for Gainesville's creeks and redeveloping blighted areas.
The commission also discussed a refinancing plan to bolster its pension plan, which has taken a major hit due to this year's economic downturn.
While the city is on the second year of a two-year budget cycle, higher insurance rates and a projected shortfall in the employee pension fund is causing the city to take steps to offset a projected shortfall of almost $1.4 million.
The bulk of that can be attributed to a weak stock market.
The city's proposed solution is basically to refinance its payments with low-interest, 30-year bonds. The city is expected to approve the issuance on Feb. 24.
Three other Florida cities - Hollywood, Pensacola and Pembroke Pines - are considering similar plans.
Ashley Rowland can be reached at 374-5095 or rowlana@

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