The City Budget - It's the Economy or Jobs and Neighborhoods
As the Mayor and City Council go through our annual effort to balance the city budget in challenging times, it is apparent to me that the real need is to focus investments in the two areas that can generate the biggest long term return for the city: job creation and neighborhood renewal.
The Adminstration has cut the staffing for economic development steadily over the last three years. Frankly, that is like a business complaining that sales were down and laying off the salespeople. It is short sighted and results in missed opportunities. The best economic development people are on a constant search to grow local businesses and recruit potential businesses to our area. In addition, there is a need to, like Tampa, look at our business processes in an effort to reduce the paperwork needed to create jobs.
Neighborhood renewal funding has been radically reduced over the last four years and it shows. The need now is to use the limited funding for this area to get the private sector to invest in our neighborhoods. As an example, I am proposing that we sharply reduce building permit fees in our most troubled neighborhoods for two years. If this helps spur additional building and renovations, it will generate more property taxes and benefit the surrounding properties. This is only one of the things we need to do to insure that our housing stock is updated and made more hurricane resistent and energy efficient.