Council needs to keep public aware

The Encinitas city council must start informing the public of budgetary problems and financial shortfalls as soon as they know they exist. 

Surprises might be welcome at birthday parties but they are unwelcome when it comes to the city’s finances.

I was surprised to read that, according to news reports, the city of Encinitas spent eight months meeting behind doors trying to figure out complicated financing plans to pay for the Hall Park and never told the public.

For years the city had told taxpayers the funding was in place.

If the city was meeting to evaluate debt options, the public should have been informed and invited to participate earlier.

The park was approved to be built in 2009 and has sat vacant, now we know why.

Encinitas Mayor Jerome Stocks, who sets the agenda for council meetings, could have put the funding problems on the agenda months ago but didn’t.

By waiting to inform the residents of the complex financing it looks to me like the city didn’t want the citizens to know about the plan until the last minute.

It’s my opinion that “surprise Style Leadership’ isn’t good for the taxpayers.

Another chance to inform the public about the lack of money was during the State of the City Address.

The Mayor could have told voters the city didn’t have the money.

It is my opinion that not doing so kept the public in the dark.

The Mayor did speak about Hall Park in his address saying, “We have incredibly favorable bids that are coming in well under the engineer estimates.”

A few months later the bids come in over the estimates.

Should we be surprised or skeptical that the city put the issue of raiding $7 million from critical projects and increasing debt by $8 million on an agenda that was released during the holiday shortened week of July 4?

Many residents were traveling or visiting with family.

It’s likely many citizens were not even aware of the debt issue until after the council approved it.

Residents might be surprised to learn that because of budgetary problems in 2006, the council approved lease revenue bonds, and city staff recommended, “The issuance of the 2006 lease revenue bonds will allow the city to proceed with the acquisition/construction of the three high priority capital projects designated in city resolution 2006-35 adopted Aug. 23, 2006 — Public works facility, fire houses, Hall Park Phase 1.”

The city then went over budget on the Public Works facility and after moving money around from various accounts the city ran out of funds to build the final firehouse and Phase 1 of the Hall Park.

It looks to me like we have already used debt to build the park once and the city failed to deliver.

I am surprised we are using debt again.

Now the city wants us to believe the park is fully funded.

In years past they told us the library was fully funded just before realizing they were $6 million short.

They also told us the Public Works facility was turn-key and then came back and told us they needed about $2 million over-budget to upgrade the building.

Let’s hope there are no surprises or cost overruns at the Hall Park.

Walking into a surprise party can be fun.

Being surprised by more debt at city hall isn’t.



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