Another $2.7 Million in Debt To Be Added Onto The Port Orange Taxpayer's Backs

Dear Mayor and Council,
money5According to the agenda just published for next Tuesdays City Council meeting, we will be hearing a presentation from Toby Wagner on how issuance of the proposed 2014 Revenue Bonds can be used to fund the Riverwalk Park Project.  Later in the meeting you will be voting on an ordinance authorizing issuance of those bonds and all indications are that you will pass that ordinance.  When that happens, you will have committed the citizens of Port Orange to repayment of approximately 2.7 million dollars in new debt.
Before you make that commitment would you please spend a few minutes and explain explain to us what it means in Chapter 2, Article VI, Division 4, Section 2-318 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Port Orange, which states:
  •         Bonds issued by or on behalf of the city pursuant to F.S. § 166.121 to finance any nonessential public project shall be approved by referendum vote of the electors of the city (emphasis mine); provided, however, that such referendum approval shall not be required for the issuance of any refunding bonds.
Riverwalk Park certainly seems to be a nonessential public project, unlike fire, police, public utilities, etc projects which are necessary for the health, safety and welfare of our citizens.  Why no referendum?  Is it because the refunding of earlier 2004 bonds by the 2014 bonds provides a loophole to squeeze through?  If that is the case one would expect that a referendum would have been held in 2004 if the bonds issued back then were to be used to fund Riverwalk.  As far as I can determine that is not the case and in fact the 2004 bonds were actually a refunding of earlier 1993 bonds.  Were the electors asked if they wanted to fund Riverwalk as early as 1993?  I don’t think the project was even on the drawing boards back then.
Of course other loopholes also exist if you are truly committed to keeping the electors out of the process.  The Code of Ordinances says that something as nebulous as “economic development or redevelopment and other governmental services and functions” might constitute an “essential public project.”  I’m sure a loophole big enough to squeeze 2.7 million dollars of taxpayer money through can be found.  I’m equally sure that the intent of the Code of Ordinances on this matter is that the electors be given final say on the matter.
A lawyer friend of mine once said that a lawyer, not having supporting facts, will pound the law; and, that a lawyer, not having supporting law will pound the facts; and, that lawyer, not having supporting facts or supporting law will pound the table.  I may just be pounding the table here but I think it needs pounding.  We’ve been shoveling money at this project for more than a decade and a half and the only tangible result so far has been to shape our “master developer” into a “master beggar.”  He now regularly appears before Council asking for more property, more concessions, more money, more, more, more.  Council should be demanding that he pay 2.7 million dollars as his fair share of Riverfront Park instead of picking money out of the taxpayer’s pockets.
Mike Gardner
618 Ruth St
Port Orange, FL  32127

2 thoughts on “Another $2.7 Million in Debt To Be Added Onto The Port Orange Taxpayer's Backs

  • May 23, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Well put Mr. Gardner. This is ridiculous. Staff spent $500,000 they did not have. They spent it on items not even eligible on the initial contract. We are expected to give investors money to develop and profit. How about if they sell they pay it back? They continue to race forward not knowing a thing. How much do we anticipate to gain replacing meters? Why are we spending money in utilities and raising rates. We are waiting for promised studies on reclaimed water, the boil water thing back during bike week. Where are the answers? Friendly well paid consultants will bring them to us although long overdue.
    Mr. Kisela needs to learn the definition of 30 days. Council CAN address these types of issues. They are not powerless. So let’s get some answers before the taxpayers are shafted with debt with a quick rap of the mallet. Without proper information and time to review it council must not race forward. It does not appear that anybody knows what heck they are doing.
    Mr. Ford keep asking questions. Other than the few activists you may be only hope out there for us.

  • May 25, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Just sitting there this Memorial Day weekend thinking about the old Port Orange and the new Port Orange. Having lived here many, many years I go back to the days when Ridgewood Avenue was the main thoroughfare and Nova Rd had a canal dividing it. City government was mainly in the hands of a small selecr few who ran it any way they wanted to. These included Cardwell, Solona and Green and a few other good ole boys.
    I see how the city has grown and prospered through the years, not because of their efforts but due to the fact that many educated, skilled and political savy people moved to the city, opened businesses and bought property due to our weather, access to the ocean and our beautiful Halifax River views.
    Mayor Green liked it better in those days because he had free rein and nobody questioned him. Most of the local yokels went along with whatever he said unquestionably.
    He’s not so happy lately when challenged for intelligent answers put forth from educated people who are paying taxes and his salary. He’s downright snarly and nasty with these people.
    The only hope I see for this city, and there is plenty to hope for because it is a wonderful town , is to “clear out ” the ole boy system” which still exists. My wishes this Memorial Day is that the City Council will stand up and do the right thing and get the city back on track.


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