City Council Finance Committee Chairman Matt Carlucci has tempered his bill to redirect capital outlay money to the core city.
A bill he had sponsored would have directed one-third of the planned spending for next year to the area covered by the former city before consolidation, which is 4 percent of the area of the current city.
An amendment to his bill would reduce the amount to 17 percent.
Carlucci said he decided to lower the amount after a closer examination of spending in the past few years.
Mayor Lenny Curry has proposed a five-year capital outlay program of $249 million.
Carlucci is not proposing to increase the total amount spent, only where it is spent.
The bill would further restrict the spending to roads, water and sewer lines, drainage and street lighting so that high-cost public facilities that benefit the whole city rather than just one area would not be counted.
Council members have been debating dollars for districts rather than actual projects. How the spending quotas would be translated into actual projects like those outlined in the mayor’s detailed plan is unclear. Presumably the mayor would choose the actual projects that would be added or delayed.
Council members from four districts that roughly match the northwest part of the city have claimed that the districts they represent have been neglected.
Curry’s plan would put 40 percent of the spending for the next five years into those districts, which make up 29 percent of the city.
Curry says the four districts got 39 percent of the spending in the last five years. By removing projects he says should not be counted, Carlucci calculates the amount is 16 percent.
Our own calculations of spending in fiscal years 2016-20 indicate the “neglected” districts got 60 percent of the capital outlay funds. This is looking at all projects except those designated as “county wide.”
It is skewed by District 7, which includes the downtown area, an area that gets many large-cost projects. Even so, there is little evidence of neglect.
Carlucci contends the old core city was promised improvements by those promoting the consolidation of city and county governments but that there are still unfulfilled needs. More money would go to neighborhoods in Southside, Riverside and Ortega under his plan.
Carlucci’s choice of the old city limits also makes it difficult to compare past and future spending in the districts complaining of neglect. He insists on that configuration because he says it was the old core city that is most in need of new infrastructure and repair.
Two committees will consider the amended bill Sept. 15.