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City Reveals More Surpluses, Still No Refunds

Posted on January 28, 2016

City Reveals More Surpluses, Still No Refunds

At Wednesday nights City Commission meeting, city staff revealed that the City’s General Fund -which pays for core services – had a $3.6 million surplus after 3-months of operation in fiscal year 2016.

The finding was presented to City Commissioners by City Manager Rick Fernandez as part  his new a budget process which will provide quarterly updates on the status of the City’s expenditures.

The report about the $3.6 million surplus follows a contentious budget process in 2015 which included a 13% property tax increase and an increase in fire service fees.

Also, in late 2016 it was revealed that the City’s enterprise funds had accumulated approximately $17 million in surpluses. The City kept all but $1 million of those surpluses.

What will happen to the $3.6 million surplus?

There was no proposal by staff to refund the surplus to taxpayers. However, staff recommended that the City Commission follow City policy which requires surpluses to be spent on capital projects. The City Commission concurred.

Staff reported to the Commission,

 As previously indicated, the City’s Finance Policy requires that any year-end surpluses or revenues from one-time revenues be transferred to the capital improvement fund once the Deficiencies Fund is fully funded. It is recommended that during the fiscal year, unspent revenues in the general fund be transferred to the capital improvement fund in accordance with the Finance Policy.

Based on this approach, tax dollars that were designated in 2015 to be spent on police officers, will now be spent on capital projects in 2016.

10 Responses to City Reveals More Surpluses, Still No Refunds

  1. Paul Henry Reply

    January 28, 2016 at 8:28 am

    Yet another example of how it’s easy to spend other people’s money, and how it’s nearly impossible to give it back to those that paid it. Law enforcement is a necessary function of our government, so it’s a shame that this revenue will likely be spent on things that are not necessary while there is still a critical need for more police officers.

    • News Maven Reply

      February 6, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      I think they should use the “surplus” to make a statue of Comrade Gillum.

      Out of pyrite (fool’s gold.)

  2. Mike Reply

    January 28, 2016 at 8:36 am

    City government continues to deliberately ignore or minimize the priority of hiring more police and strengthening our law enforcement agencies in general – when we have the state’s worst per-capita violent crime rate. Conversely, they maximize the priority of accumulating huge amounts of surplus cash to be spent on what? Taxpayer refunds or lowering of fees/taxes – or another pet brew-pub or crony project funded by taxpayers? Perhaps more “deferred compensation” buried and re-titled on some non-public, obscure expenditure form? They’ve done it before, what would stop them now if opportunity exists?

    It would be great to rise above cynicism when observing Tallahassee’s city officials, but they made their own reputations with their past and present actions (or lack of action). Of course the city hates TR and it’s reporting – it shines lights where the city would prefer the customary darkness it enjoys from the other news organizations in town.

  3. Franklin Thompson Reply

    January 28, 2016 at 8:55 am

    It looks like with Rick Fernandez as our City Manager, the Mayor and City Commission and will no longer be able to hide from their wasteful spending habits.

  4. Roger Osborne Reply

    January 28, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Mike, your comments are right on the mark. The sad truth is the bureaucracy at the City runs the City Commission and this bureaucracy is not accountable to anyone.

  5. whit Reply

    January 28, 2016 at 9:58 am

    Transferring budget surpluses to capital funds sounds sketchy to me. A roundabout way to fund projects that might not otherwise get funded. There ought to be a law against it.

  6. John Drake Reply

    January 28, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    Would y’all like some cheese with your whine?

    $3.6 million is actually not a whole lot of money, and I’d rather the city be conservative with our money – perhaps start a rainy-day fund and earn some interest – than waste even more money mailing out a $5-dollar rebate. Geez Louise.

    • From the cheap seats Reply

      January 28, 2016 at 8:36 pm

      The $3.6 million seems to be reported in sort of a vacuum. Doesn’t say whether there’s a surplus because expenditures budgeted for the 1st quarter didn’t occur but will later in the year; whether there’s a permanent favorable expense trend expecting to continue, or there’s a seasonality factor that balances out later in the year. Imagine how many pitchforks and torches would be out if there was a deficit…

  7. Stanley Sims Reply

    January 29, 2016 at 9:16 am

    Steve I’m warming up to your new style of reporting information. February is Black History Month….

  8. Vic Aderhold Reply

    February 8, 2016 at 10:57 am

    The administration of the City of Tallahassee wants two things from its subjects, money and compliance.

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