Posted on August 18, 2013
The Tallahassee City Commission is struggling to find money for police officers and bus drivers. Mayoral candidate and City Commissioner Andrew Gillum says we cannot afford the ethics officer recommended by a blue ribbon panel.
But when it comes to financing The Brew Pub restaurant – the City has no problem finding money.
Tallahassee Reports has reviewed documents that reveal the City of Tallahassee will spend $2.1 million in tax dollars to finance the Brew Pub restaurant to be located in the historic Old Electric building in Cascades Park.
In September 2011 the City Commission directed Staff to present options related to the reuse of the old electric building. A request for proposal was subsequently released to solicit interest for a public/private partnership to implement a brew pub type establishment at the site with the City retaining ownership and leasing the use of the facility.
Proof Brewing Company of Tallahassee was the highest ranked respondent and on October 24, 2012, the City Commission authorized the City Manager to negotiate an agreement with the Company for the renovation and lease. Original funding for this purpose was identified as $1,355,714 in tax dollars with the private partner contribution of $1,548,286.
During the course of finalizing the plans, the architect of record for the project identified the need for up to $1.3 million in additional funding that would be required to bring the facility up to a leasable state with some attractive amenities regardless of use. This addition brings the total project costs to $3,667,020 with an investment of $2.1 million in tax dollars.
Some of the amenities that tax dollars will be used for include a $56,000 allowance for bar and restroom cabinetry and counter tops, tile and etched concrete flooring, $30,000 for interior lighting, electric hand dryers and seven coat hooks.
The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) has committed $816,789 towards the $2.1 million in renovation costs, thus there is a funding shortfall of $1,301,945.
How did the City find this money in these tough budgetary times?
To fund the above shortfall, City Staff recommended reallocating funds from Project 95484, in the amount of $893,239.93 and Project 05141, in the amount of $408,000 to complete the Old Electric Building renovations. Public Works has indicated that Project 95484 is no longer necessary as the targeted improvements associated with this project have been completed. This project was associated with the 1989 Sales Tax Bond for off-site roadway improvements at the intersections of Magnolia Drive and Blair Stone Road with Apalachee Parkway.
With these improvements deemed completed, the remaining project balance of $893,239.93 can be reappropriated towards another project. As Project 95484 funds are from a bond, to reuse these funds will require a public hearing as the new use is for a project other than what was originally approved by the voters. This can be accomplished during the annual budgeting process.
Project 05141, on the other hand, was created in 2005, with funding from the 2004 Sales Tax Bond, for gateway improvements to Lake Bradford Road. This project is currently a contending project for the 2019 Sales Tax Extension. Given the fact that Project 05141 is uncertain at this time, the City Staff indicated that $408,000 previously allocated from the 2004 Sales Tax Bond can be redirected towards Electric Building renovations.
The City Commission voted 5-0 to accept City Staff’s recommendation for funding the project on July 10, 2013.