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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Other Local Government Fun Spots

Charlie Peters, founder of The Washington Monthly magazine, used to include quick examples of government tidbits from a wide range of sources for his monthly column. The magazine generally focused on the federal government but Charlie was always on the lookout for state and local items to pepper his column.

Indiana Parley offers up two stories the followers of local government in Fort Wayne and Allen County might find interesting.

The first
story is about an effort by a group of California citizens to organize a new county by cleaving off a chunk of Santa Barbara County.
A group of North County residents who initiated an effort to divide Santa Barbara County - creating a new Mission County in the process - decided Tuesday to begin campaigning to get voters to approve the plan.

In 2003, the group - Citizens for County Organization (CFCO), Inc. - gathered more than 21,000 signatures to require a study on the feasibility of dividing the county along north-south lines, and eventually a vote on the matter.

Voters countywide will decide the split proposal during the June 6 primary election. In order to take effect, the split would have to be approved by voters in both the old county and the new one.

CFCO members - including businessman Jim Diani, Chamber of Commerce CEO Robert Hatch and former county supervisor Harrell Fletcher of Santa Maria, and Etta Waterfield of Lompoc, have said they question the validity of some of the Mission County Formation Commission's findings, and that a county divorce is still the right choice.

“It comes down to differences between North County and the South Coast,” said Diani, CFCO chairman and president of Diani Companies. “Geographically, the south is urbanized and it has developed a quality of life that contrasts with the rural economy of the North County. It's very difficult to make county regulations now that don't adversely affect one region or another.”
The other story is from the Youngstown (OH) Vindicator about city officials who have no idea about the finances of their municipal arena. It wouldn't be so bad if they were just talking about the operating expenses; they don't seem to know how it came to cost so much to build, either.
[Youngstown] officials haven't received financial projections from Global Entertainment Corp. of Phoenix and Compass Facilities Management Co. of Ames, Iowa — the companies managing the center — since September, said city Finance Director David Bozanich.
Youngstown got a new Mayor on January 1, 2006.
"Outside of [reducing] the homicide rate, one of my primary objectives and concerns is getting a firm understanding of the finances of the center," [Mayor Jay Williams] said. "I want to make sure it's a successful venture. It's something we have to stay on top of not only on a day-to-day basis, but long-term."

The estimated construction cost of the center jumped from $41 million to $45.38 million in the span of about a month this past summer.

Even though the facility has held events since Oct. 29, city officials say the final construction cost may not be known until as late as the end of next month.

The city borrowed $12 million at 6.5 percent interest from Sky Bank in late August to make up a projected funding gap for the arena. Most of the center's construction cost was paid with a $26.8 million federal grant.

Financial projections from the center's management team obtained in August by The Vindicator estimate a $1,153,802 profit for this year.
Anyone willing to bet whether the center will make the 2006 profit projection?

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