We appreciate efforts city commissioners make on a host of issues despite the harsh criticism we some times heap on them.
But this group of commissioners brings a level of professionalism to the job not present in years past, and that was evident last week when they met with a group of Cold Creek Crossing residents upset with larger-than-expected assessments for infrastructure work at the new development off Venice Road.
Cold Creek Crossing is the first substantial new housing development in the city in four decades, and it was structured by agreement with the developer for the city to finance the road and infrastructure work initially. That cost would then transfer on an equitable basis to each property owner -- including the unsold lots still owned by the developer -- when the infrastructure work was completed.
Poor communication from city staff was the heart of the heat that fired up residents, and commissioners worked hard to fix the problem by talking it out. We were especially appreciative when commissioners Dave Waddington and Brett Fuqua explicitly stated city staff must remember who the boss is: all city residents. No more excuses, they said, every phone call to city hall from residents, every action, every service request, should be documented. Bravo.
We are concerned, however, with an action commission president Dennis Murray Jr. is contemplating based on a suggestion by City Manager Matt Kline. The assessments the residents received were higher than the estimates, many by about 10 percent, or $2,000. Kline suggested using $220,000 from the city sewer and city water funds to pay the difference because much of the infrastructure work involved sewer and water lines.
We appreciate the sentiment but miscommunication from city staff does not warrant such a huge city expenditure to subsidize this housing development.
If the sewer and water funds are so flush with money we suggest giving a one-time rebate for all residents who pay into the funds. There are hundreds of abandoned or foreclosed homes in the city and across the region -- and commissioners must address this serious and growing concern.