Wednesday, August 03, 2016

St. Augustine Beach Loan Questioned

You've got to watch these meetings for yourself. The Record ignores or does not credit citizen contributions a/k/a "A member of the public." What errant nonsense -- this is our government, but some Record employees disdain public participation and won't cover public comment. Why?

St. Augustine Beach to reconsider loan
Posted: August 2, 2016 - 11:42pm | Updated: August 3, 2016 - 3:40am

St. Augustine Beach commissioners have delayed a multi-million dollar loan proposal, part of which would be used to pay off debt from a 2015 land purchase.

Commissioners, who discussed the item this week, want answers to their questions before making a decision. The commission is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. Monday to consider the proposal again.

Commissioners requested details about interest rates and other details of the loan.

Melissa Burns, chief financial officer for the city, said the closing date for the deal, if approved, would be the end of the September. And that the next official commission meeting would not be soon enough for a decision.

Mayor Rich O’Brien suggested having Monday’s special meeting to discuss the deal, which would be capped at about $9.1 million.

“If we’re talking about up to $9 million, couldn’t we all afford a 30-minute meeting?” O’Brien asked.

The transaction was listed in backup materials as a “bond issue to finance the $4.5 million from the purchase of the remaining 4.5 acres of the Maratea property” and a refunding for a 2004 bond issue, a deal that would not exceed about $7.5 million.

Before the meeting, the commission had asked Burns to look into a 2009 direct loan for refunding, but that is not possible, she said.

However, refunding 2010 bonds is doable. Burns told commissioners that the “not to exceed amount” of the loan increased to $9.1 million. She said later that is with the 2004 and 2010 projects considered and some cushion built in.

With the new loan, the city also plans to use $3 million to pay off the remaining debt owed for the Maratea (now Ocean Hammock Park) property and $1.5 million to replenish what the city took from savings to make the first debt payment on the property.

“Payment to the Florida Municipal Loan Council for the bonds would come from the 0.50 mills that the City’s voters approved in 2008 for the purchase of land to save it from development,” according to a memo from City Manager Max Royle.

The city has about 2.5 months’ worth of operating reserve funds, and the extra $1.5 million in savings would add enough cushion for six months of operating costs, Burns said at the meeting.

City officials indicated the funds could also help support city projects.

The city’s total debt was about $8.9 million as of July 6, according to a city document. A member of the public suggested commissioners consider other sources for the loan.

In other business

Commissioners suggested changing the way St. Augustine Beach handles vacancies for its appointed boards. The City Commission moved ahead with reappointing three members of the Planning and Zoning Board but also supported a policy change. Royle said he approached the planning board members, and they indicated they would continue serving.

“Given the fact it’s very hard to get people to serve on that board ... their willingness indicated to me that was the best way to do it,” Royle said.

The Commission supported changing policy in the future to advertise for all board vacancies or when a term on a seat will be ending. Royle plans to bring back a city policy change in September for vacancies on appointed boards.

Royle said vacancies are already listed on the city’s website.

■ Commissioners held a shade meeting to discuss building security. Shade meetings can include commissioners and are held in private, as per Florida statute. State law outlines a limited number of exemptions to open meetings laws.

O’Brien said the shade meeting focused on bids city officials needed to discuss and “it is for the protection of our staff.”

City Attorney Jim Wilson explained: “This involves plans for construction of ... security facilities, so those are the types of things that ... are exempt from public disclosure entirely. You don’t want somebody to know the security plans of a building.”

Wilson cited Florida statute 286.0113, which lists an exemption for security plans from public meetings.


Thomas Francis Reynolds 08/03/16 - 08:09 am 32Shade
Of course we the residents want and will secure our Employees. BUT WHAT HAPPEN ? What is being hidden from the residents ? Why has Commissioner Rich e Rich O'Brien and Commissioner Andrea Angry Samuels allowed Drinking alcoholic beverages in the City Commission meeting room ? Does that have something to do with the security being needed now ?



Thomas Francis Reynolds 08/03/16 - 07:42 am 32THE APPOINTED ONES !
The Commission never even took application or advertised for these soon to be expired positions/vacancies, until CAUGHT ! Now they are going to change the way the process is done. Once again, Commissioners Rich e Rich O'Brien and Andrea Angry Samuels want to KEEP CONTROL. This is one of the consequences of people being in office to long. Commissioners Rich e Rich O'Brien and Andrea Angry Samuels think they are the owners of the City or Royalty of some kind. HEY WE THE RESIDENTS GOT SOME NEWS.......... YOUR NOT !

Thomas Francis Reynolds 08/03/16 - 08:08 am 32We are watching, listening, and bringing our calculators !
Commissioner Rich e Rich O'Brien " couldn't we all afford a 30 minute meeting" ? Yes and even longer ! But the real question is why haven't you and the other Commissioners already being doing your homework on this the most important issue of the YEAR ? This smells and sounds like the lack of details, transparency, and failed Commission oversight. Without a doubt, the presentation was an embarrassment to the Common Sense of Residents and showed how the incompetents are in charge !

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