Fernandina Beach is Still Subsidizing its Airport

"We're at the 'What-do-we-want-to-be-when-we-grow-up' stage," City Manager Michael Czymbor said. "We have to decide if we want to pay to play."


He said the airport's benefits to the community include tourism, economic development and job creation.

"Every one of those would be positive even if we didn't own it," Sapp said.

The marina enterprise fund is more difficult to analyze because visitors and residents use its amenities, Sapp said.

City residents use the marina for walks and watching sunsets, but that doesn't bring in revenue. Yet, expenses to maintain the decks and other facilities come out of the marina's enterprise fund.

Commissioner Ron Sapp suggested the marina fund be "hybridized," putting the cost of maintaining public areas, like the boardwalk, in the Parks and Recreation Department budget.

That would more accurately account for the public use from the private use by boaters who dock at the facility. That way, revenues and expenses for marina services would more fairly reflect the business side of operations.

Gerrity asked whether it would be better to wait to see what increases in revenue ongoing improvements at the marina will produce.

"I'd like to see where we were at when that marina's finished," Gerrity said. "I think we're really putting the cart before the horse here."

No one mentioned the golf course, which operated with a $1,400 loss, despite having to borrow city funds to finance a new irrigation system in 2006.

However, water and wastewater funds may need more study, officials said.

The city purchased the water and wastewater utility from Florida Public Utilities in 2003, but it is not performing up to projections, largely because the city froze rates until 2008. A final payment of $5 million is due to FPU in 2010.

Czymbor said that when the utility was purchased, water and wastewater divisions had been counted for jointly. The city has separated the functions, with the water department showing more than $500,000 in profit. Because $5.4 million in capital improvements were made in the wastewater division, cash balances were also transferred to pay for them.

Commissioners urged a study be done to determine what water and wastewater rates should be charged when they can be changed next year.

"I'm sure a study will say they'll need to be raised by 50 to 75 percent," Gerrity said. "And when I had suggested three years ago they raise rates 3 percent a year, people looked at me like I had two heads."

FERNANDINA BEACH 2006 ENTERPRISE FUNDS

AIRPORT GOLF COURSE MARINA WATER WASTEWATER

REVENUES $509,686 $2,690,112 $5,265,398 $3,731,191 $3,403,530

EXPENDITURES $639,710 $2,691,507 $3,987,623 $3,211,233 $5,560,294

Capital improvements $1,195,658 $1,992,000 $5,400,000

Legal fees $322,113

PROFIT (LOSS)* ($130,024) ($1,395) $1,277,775 $519,958 ($2,156,764)

* ALL FUNDS MUST BE BALANCED IN GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTING, SO RESERVES WERE USED TO MAKE UP ANY LOSSES.

SOURCE: FERNANDINA BEACH



News stories provided by third parties are not edited by "Site Publication" staff. For suggestions and comments, please click the Contact link at the bottom of this page.

We Recommend