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Posted on February 19, 2009
Tallahassee Reports sat down with City Commissioner Mark Mustian to get his view on a number of issues.
What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the City of Tallahassee?
First is what to do with the electric utility. Should we keep it, sell the complete utility, or just the generation? I think we need to move in the direction of selling.
The second issue would be transportation. I think we need to work hard on creating a more robust busing system. This would include more hubs around town so more people would find the system easier to use.
Do you have any concerns about the Gaines Street project?
Yes, I have a lot of concerns. The biggest being traffic and cost. If we can get these concerns worked out, the project will be our biggest economic engine over the next 15-20 years.
Are you in favor of public funding for the performing arts center?
I believe the issue needs to be put to the voters. I would only support public funding if the voters gave it a go ahead in a referendum.
Are you in favor of the City parking policy for employees?
Yes. I voted for it. It is an issue of fairness – employees downtown pay for parking. I think all employees should pay something for parking. In addition it is important to emphasize the need to car pool or ride the bus. We are also looking at cutting back on car allowances and take home cars.
What is your position on cultural arts funding and what priority should it receive during these tough economic times?
My concern with the funding is that we distribute the money in small amounts to a lot of different groups. I believe we have to support the arts but I had rather fund one or two projects at higher levels and focus on the success of those projects.
What would you say to those who say crossing guards should not lose out to Tallahassee Ballet or the African Dance Festival?
That is a legitimate issue and assessing priorities will become even more relevant over the coming months.
Why did you vote to cut the school crossing guard budget?
On the subject of crossing guards issue, the question was whether there were other ways to provide this service. As I recall, we passed a surcharge on traffic violations to fund the bulk of the cost, and suggested that the school board fund the remainder (my understanding is that many school boards in Florida fund the entire cost). My recollection was that the guards at issue (not funded) were those at middle schools, not elementary schools. We discussed as well the possibility of engaging volunteer guards, but I’m not sure if that went anywhere—I need to check on that.
What was your perception of the City Managers re-organization plan?
My view was that it cut director positions and saved money.
Tallahassee Reports found that the re-organization plan included moving vacant positions from other departments and using the funding associated with those positions to help fund the EPER (Green Department) to the tune of about $200,000-$300,000. Were your familiar with this part of the re-organization?
No. I will look into this.