Sarasota News Leader

09/28/12

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Sarasota News Leader September 28, 2012 between what's been promised and what's available from the city's coffers. And the situation is likely to get worse. The $272 million figure uses current (and very op- timistic) estimates of interest and dividends the pension funds will earn. Over the past de- cade, those ambitious estimates were not met. When the estimates are re-figured downward to realistic rates of return, "then the deficit will go higher," said Lyons. The elephant will grow. THE BIGGEST DISASTER As finance director, Lyons is responsible for developing a budget in coordination with the city manager — except last January, then-City Manager Bob Bartolotta was compelled to resign because of an unproven allegation he Page 37 erased emails in violation of Florida Public Records Laws. "The way we are set up causes problems un- less people are collegial," Lyons said. The re- lationship between the City Clerk and Audi- tor's Office and the city manager "has been a problem for years." After Bartolotta's resignation, Terry Lewis was asked to fill in temporarily; he held the job while Lyons assembled a budget. Lewis' pri- mary job was to hold the city administration together, not to chart a path forward. "We had to pay severance to the [Information Technology] director and for Bartolotta and the cost of Sandy Coleman on paid leave until this is resolved, and, of course, the cost of the investigation," said Lyons. "It's been a big loss In December 2009, the city and county cut a deal to lure the Baltimore Orioles to Sarasota for spring training. One detail of that deal was the transfer of Ed Smith Stadium to county control, relieving the city of a $600,000 annual funding drain. Sarasota County Chief Financial Planning Officer Jeff Seward (right) and City Finance Director Chris Lyons cheer their separate victories in this file photo. Seward got a baseball stadium to peddle; Lyons plugged a big budget hole. The photo was taken in the team's locker room. Photo by Stan Zimmerman

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