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Sarasota News Leader December 6, 2013 Page 51 April City Commission workshop, when the commissioners examined alterations to the city's capital improvement plan. While this sounds academic, in reality, it involves the shuffling of large sums, essentially moving money from one proposal to fund others. For example, there is a total of $28.5 million set aside over 15 years for "street reconstruction" in the third iteration of the LOST money program. In the previous fiscal year, the annual allotment for that purpose was $1.5 million. But the September resolution raided more than $1 million from the account. The City Commission redistributed $180,000 for "boardwalk improvements" at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall; $300,000 for "bayshore protection;" $125,000 for "O'Leary's [Tiki Bar and Grill] shoreline protection;" $150,000 for "soil and erosion" behind the Van Wezel; $125,000 for the "Whitaker Gateway Park Seawall"; and $180,000 for "decks behind [the] Van Wezel." In other words, more than $1 million was shifted from "road reconstruction" last year to seawalls, shoreline protection and Van Wezel improvements. The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall will benefit this fiscal year from local option sales tax funds. Photo by Norman Schimmel "Our function is not to evaluate the merit of the changes," said committee Chairman Robert Casella. Committee member Jose Garnham asked, "During the process of the year, did the [City] When voters approved the extension of the Commission add new projects?" LOST levy, they also approved a laundry list Strickland said, "They did. They also deleted of projects (including the $28.5 million for projects and moved money." street reconstruction). But city commissioners, with a public hearing and passage of a "Can the nature of the project change?" asked resolution, were able to divert the money to Garnham. other uses. "Sometimes there are completely new projThe "oversight committee" believes, however, ects," replied Strickland. "This year, street that its job is ensure that proper notice was reconstruction had a big pot of money. They given, a public hearing was held and a City divided that out into specific projects. There Commission resolution was passed. How the are projects that are new, so they will take it from one that's not as much of a priority." money got re-jiggered is not its business.

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