In One Easy-to-Read Chart, Where All the 2006 Bond Money Has (And Hasn't) Been Spent

Categories: City Hall
06bondelectionsign.jpg
Our 2006 bond election keepsake
A few weeks ago, following City Manager Mary Suhm's sneak peek at the 2012 bond program that will be but a fraction of a fraction of its mammoth $1.35-billion '06 predecessor, I asked City Hall spokesman Frank Librio if there's a doc listing all the things that have and haven't been done with '06 bond money. He got with Rick Galceran, director of Public Works and Transportation, and kicked out the 33 pages you see below. And below that, all the proposed projects we voted on six years ago, with a dollar amount for each.

That second doc's important, because as you'll note the one provided by City Hall doesn't list how much was supposed to go toward the individual to-do's. Just as a for-instance: Dallas Farmer's Market was supposed to get $6,636,760. But per the chart dispatched by the city, it says only that $611,271 has been spent to date and that its project status is "on-hold/delayed," but it doesn't provide the original amount set aside.

Dozens of items are under award, either in the design or construction phase. But you'll also see myriad items listed as "reprogrammed/cancelled," including a number of park playgrounds, each originally guesstimated to run around $170,000. I asked Librio and Galceran if they could tell us where that money has gone, and if there's a chart like the one provided that includes original cost estimates. Galceran responds via email:
There is a list with the projects and the amount that were estimated for each project. That is how we came up with the original dollar estimate for the bond program. Some estimates have been high and some have been low as was expected. For projects that were cancelled, reprogrammed or that came in low, those funds were placed in a contingency account and were/are used to pay for those projects that come in high. It was/will be also be used to pay for an unexpected project such as a bridge repair and additional resurfaced streets etc. We will not know the exact amount of funds in the contingency account until all projects are completed.
Which will be a while. 2006 Bond Status.media RequestBond Program Proposition Final
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15 comments
Akorea123
Akorea123

Since when did one simplistic article by one simplistic media outlet constitute full disclosure of what is actually going on? Could it be that the information presented to our media brainchild is the exact information that was requested? Could it be that our media outlets present the information they want to present in the fashion they want it presented? Come on people...wake up!

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

I say that we start a VOTE NO campaign about the bond program until they explain everything from 2006 forward.

heyheymama
heyheymama

The link below is to a November Wall Street Journal article about this situation. 

The paragraph that caught my eye reads: "In Miami, the Securities and Exchange Commission is wrapping up an investigation into whether the city used funds intended for roads and other purposes to fill budget gaps elsewhere, according to people close to the probe. Bondholders are suing, saying the moves obscured the city's true finances. The city's former budget director is also suing, claiming he was fired for cooperating with the SEC and the Federal Bureau of Investigation."

http://online.wsj.com/article/...

My husband and I vote in every election and have voted for all bonds because we thought they could not be used as a slush fund, that, as securities, they were under some level of regulation.

I guarantee we will not vote for any "slush fund" bonds in the future.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

I bet the city betters are licking their lips in anticipation of getting more bond monies (money being a fungible fluid commodity) to squander for 2012.    As council  woman Linda Koop once said in a town hall meeting with the vultures known as the city staff  in attendance:  "look at all this money-help us spend it."   They don't need our help to squander tax dollars (and higher property taxes)  they have been doing a good job in wasting it every day since their elections.

OakParkStudio
OakParkStudio

Robert/Jim S.:

I'm less interested in what has happened to the 2006 bond $$ than I am about the HUGE black hole that the 1998/9 bond issue for the Trinity River Project Bond has fallen into.

Jim often mentions this and you may have already published this...but I'd be curious about that "slush fund" as another post mentioned.

This is one where we were sold up the river by the solar powered water taxis and slick brochures and powerpoints.

lorlee
lorlee

It's why I don't think I will vote any bond money ever again.  The City even went to Court to get a ruling that says "Doesn't matter what we said or what the shiny brochures said, that was only a suggestion, We are going to spend this however we da$# well please."

Max from the Sandspit
Max from the Sandspit

Don't you guys understand, all y'all did was vote on a giant slush fund. If wanna get a laugh check El Rrun Rrun, a blog by Juan Montoya in my neck of the woods.The UTB-TSC crap in Brownsville is worth the visit. 

T. Erickson
T. Erickson

Just let me know when the solar powered water taxis are available for use.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

I'm confused, the information you asked for should be at the City Manager's finger tips:

A very simple schedule that shows for each line item:

1)  Bond issue funded amount2)  Less:  Amount spent to date3)  Less:  Amount reprogrammed to other projects4)  Plus:  Amount reallocated from other projects5)  Equals:  Amount remaining to be spent

I don't understand how they are able to exercise basic oversight of the bond issue if the lack such basic reports.  Did you ask them how they are actually keeping track of this stuff?

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

And to think that they (the city) wants more bond monies in 2012.   More money to squander.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

It really seems bizarre.... judging from what Robert was able to pull together, the City really doesn't seem to have any sort of formal bond project tracking mechanism in place.

heyheymama
heyheymama

I was a construction project engineer for the Air Force.  We had similar information at our fingertips.You bet we knew where every dollar was, in a neat and tidy report, so we didn't have to get out the finger puppets to explain it to our betters.

Po
Po

You cant misuse the money if you have good accounting, Mr!!!

Muddy waters cover the river bottom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

RTGolden
RTGolden

Keep track of it?  This is government, they don't 'track' money, or account for it.  They have two monetary statuses they keep their eyes on:  SURPLUS (which means spend spend spend like there's no tomorrow ) and GONE (which means print more money/raise taxes/institute new fees ).

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