âWeâre gonna run our airport like a business,â Greg Donovan told the Pensacola City Council, âand there are some decisive decisions that have to be made.â
Standard & Poor recently downgraded the airportâs revenue bond rating from stable to negative. The financial service cited below-average liquidity and debt service coverage, a high debt burden and competition.
Donovan, fresh on the job, told the council that the airportâs budget would be dropping $1.8 million. When asked how such cuts could be made, the director described the newÂ numbers as a âmore accurate budget,â a budget that reflects âactual vs. forecasts.â
In order to reduce the budget, the airport director plans to reduce service contracts, find procedural efficiencies and cross-utilize staff.
âBut at the same time, itâs not just about cutting expenses,â Donovan said, âitâs about raising revenues.â
Efforts toward that end will include reworking arrangements with current tenantsâcharging them for utilitiesâexploring additional food and beverage options and increasing parking-lot rates.
Also during tonightâs council meeting, the board formalized itâs decision to dedicate the cityâs portion of a 4-cent gas taxârecently levied by the Escamiba County Commissionâto fund mass transit, via approving an interlocal with the county.
Earlier, during Mondayâs Committee of the Whole meeting, council approved the interlocal only after stressing to Interim County Administrator George Touart that the city would like to have an additional seat at the Mass Transit Advisory Committeeâs table. Councilman Charles Bare raised concerns Thursday about the likelihood of that seat materializing once the interlocal was approved.
The council approved the gas-tax interlocal 8-1, with Bare dissenting.
The council also decided to hold off on approving a mid-year supplemental budget resolution. Councilwoman Sherri Myers complained that Chief Financial Officer Dick Barker had not initially been specific enough in detailing the budgetary math, and requested more time to review the numbers. Bare said he considered Barkerâs vagueness an âinsult.â
City Administrator Bill Reynolds assured council that he would provide as specific information as desired. Councilman Brian Spencer suggested a one or two sentence description of the various budgetary changesââwhat is cause and effect in terms of these reductions that we are being asked to pass.â
The city council also formalized their motions to have President P.C. Wu approach the YMCA about reentering negotiations for a spot at the Community Maritime Park, and named themselves as the audit committee that will select an auditor to conduct the cityâs annual financial audit. Bare and Myers were on the losing side of each of those 7-2 votes.
In other business, Spencerâwho heads up the council when it sits as the Community Redevelopment Agencyâinformed the board that he had not scheduled a CRA meeting because he hoped to approach Hixardt Technologiesâto discuss the companyâs proposed two-year extension on a land-for-jobs dealâbefore the board met again. Council Vice President Jewel Cannada-Wynn also requested that a proposed policy from the city administration on how to best deal with the selling of public property be placed on the councilâs next COW agenda.
Also at yesterdayâs city council meeting, President Wu went back and forth with a member of the public about why City Attorney Jim Messer could not be referred to as a âpathological liar.â
âTo accuse somebody of lying is a very, very serious charge,â Wu said. ââI will not permit it in the future.â
The citizen was referring specifically to statements made by Messer over the course of the city councilâs YMCA-conversations. Wu told the man that he wouldnât tolerate the charge of âliar,â and that he should instead say, âin my opinion they made me feel something was inaccurate.â
Councilwoman Myers later argued that the citizen did, in fact, have the right to say whatever he chose, due to First Amendment protections. Wu countered that he had the authority as council president to call for âcivility.â