City commissioners changed directions again on the issue of paid parking.
At their Dec. 7 meeting, they canceled plans for a series of educational community workshops and asked the parking department to provide a timeline on the possibility of a taxpayer subsidy keeping the department solvent.
Current projections have the parking department running out of its $1 million reserve fund by the end of 2010.
If that happens, the most likely scenarios include using ad valorem taxes to sustain the department or eliminating regulated parking altogether.
• City advocate Diana Hamilton stunned many in the City Commission Chambers when she called for City Manager Bob Bartolotta’s job.
“Is he a good fit for our city?” she asked commissioners. “We need somebody else who’s comfortable with conflict.”
Hamilton said Bartolotta tries to quash conflict. She said she believes embracing conflict is the only way to share ideas and find solutions to problems.
The commission is responsible for hiring and firing the city manager.
“It’s time for you to do your job,” Hamilton told commissioners.
Neither the commissioners nor Bartolotta responded.
• City Manager Bob Bartolotta announced the taxpayer subsidy for the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall dropped from $1 million in fiscal year 2007-2008 to $350,000 in fiscal year 2008-2009.
Bartolotta cited five factors in cutting the subsidy: staff cuts, remaining staff picking up more responsibilities, better programming, more aggressive marketing and more monetary contributions from the Van Wezel Foundation.
• During a regular update on the city’s investment portfolio, which showed its market value rising from $207 million in March 2008 to $238 million in September 2009, Commissioner Terry Turner praised the city’s finance department.
“This is the worst bear market since the 30s, and during that market, staff managed to increase market value,” Turner said. “I think staff should be commended.
• City Auditor and Clerk Billy Robinson presided over his last City Commission meeting. After 31 years, Robinson retires at the end of the month.
Eighteen former mayors and commissioners appeared in the City Commission Chambers to honor him. Robinson said it was wonderful that they all took time out of their schedules to be there for his last meeting.
“It’s very emotional,” he said.
The city has not yet hired Robinson’s replacement.
Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].